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Writer's Conference Pre-Season Tickets

It's Tuesday, and on Friday of this week, I will attend the Okanagan Valley Writer's Festival, in Penticton, BC. Although I have mondo writing education, this will be my first writer's conference, and I have to admit, I am pretty excited.

I had set myself a personal goal of being at the 25,000 word mark on the novel I am working on prior to attending, although this was 100% my own goal, and not a requirement of theirs. Today is my last day to dedicate to writing, and I am finding myself well and truly stuck. Figures. So, I think it's doubtful I will make that word count goal, but I did get close. 20, 606 words. And counting -- there are still hours left in my day, after all.

Long ago, when I put on an outdoor music mini-festival, one of my sponsors gave me advice I have often thought of since that day. "Leigh," he said, "You need to decide what your goals are for this event. Otherwise, how will you know if you successfully met them?" His advice seems pertinent to me for my upcoming weekend.

So, why am I attending this conference? What am I hoping to achieve/gain?

First, I am looking forward to getting away from home for a weekend. Even though I only live two hours away and hypothetically could commute, gas prices being what they are, it seemed wise just to book a hotel. So I have. And that makes this my HOLIDAY. For Spring, at least. I am pretty stoked about that.

Penticton, in the south Okanagan, seems to my outsider's eyes to be a town with a large focus on the arts. That, combined with its natural beauty and proximity to multiple lakes, has always made it one of those towns where I would consider living. I am looking forward to walking the shores of the lake over by the Peach Pit, and to exploring the town nightlife. I am also excited to use my hotel's pool and hot tub. I will be bringing my lap top -- obviously -- but I am thinking I will likely drag my guitar along for the ride. Nothing like a little acoustic guitar playing lakeside to relax my heart.

The second thing I hope to gain from this conference is the beginning of a writing support network. It's solitary, this writer's life. Although I have a life jam-packed with people and purpose, most of that exists outside my writing. I am excited to go meet other local scribes.

I'm excited to hear the speakers, although I couldn't even name them for you. I may never have attended a writing conference, but I've been to seminars for different jobs I have held over my life, and I've been to music writer's retreats, so I figure I don't even have to hope for some learning -- that always happens at these things. It's just a question of where the intersection of what they have to teach and what I have to learn will occur. That will be an interesting

post-retreat revelation.

I am a person of faith, who wishes to be true to her faith in her writing, while at the same time wishing to be authentic about where faith and life actually co-exist in this 21st century. In my own life, I consider God. It isn't authentic for me to write about people devoid of all faith, because I personally view life through the lens of a Christian upbringing and the unfolding of my subsequent adult life. But neither is it right for me to frame people of faith as puritans, for in my experience, none of us are. There is not enough suspension of disbelief in the universe for me to pull that one off. In my writing, I am seeking a balance, straddling this line. If I can gain some pointers on this one at the conference, then it will all be money well spent to me!

When it's all said and done, the plan is to write about this event. Since I'd really like to develop some travel writing skills, some of what I will be paying attention to is the travel aspect of this adventure. Some of what I hope to glean will be suitable for writing magazines. Beyond that, I am open to whatever the weekend brings!

Penticton, here I come!

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