What’s inside the box?

cropped-ramonagravitar.jpgI hereby declare—since hereby declaring is a popular thing now—that I am all conferenced out.

This temporary condition will certainly  pass, but for the moment, I am unpacked, the suitcase is in the closet, and I have no immediate travel plans.  Give me a week and I’ll be screaming about cabin fever, but for the moment, it feels good to tuck in and enjoy some home time.

But staying home has hazards of its own. Like the rest of the world, every time I walk through the rooms of my house, I think about decluttering. There are still boxes in the basement we have never opened since our move from Pennsylvania 20+ years ago. Part of my fear in opening those boxes is that I will be delighted with whatever forgotten items have been waiting there, and I’ll be adding more instead of embracing less.

Life is full of chancy moments like this, when you don’t know what’s ahead: something you’ll never use, or something you’ll never forget.

A workshop is like an unopened box, I realized this weekend at the Pennwriters Conference.  You have no idea how deeply you’ll connect to the writer presenting or if their shared wisdom will hit you in the right place at the right time. One such moment, when a line is just what  you need to hear today, is a gem.

I came away with three gems from last weekend. The following quotes flew across the room and stuck to me like spaghetti on a wall:

“Plot the conflict.” – Susan Meier

“When the book opens, the villain already has a game plan.” – Gayle Lynds

“The inciting incident is the only scene in your story that can be totally random.” – Hilary Hauck

Wise words, yes? Susan’s advice means to stay on track in planning the action that drives the story. Gayle’s words are a reminder that the villain is always present. Hilary’s quote is an a-ha that the writer is allowed only one freebie from the universe.

Three gems in a single weekend means Pennwriters was a wonderful box to open.

Now, please excuse me. There’s a Mother’s Day hammock in the back yard I need to break in, and I have three takeaways to ponder while I do that. Those boxes in the basement have waited 20  years. Another day won’t hurt them.

16 thoughts on “What’s inside the box?

  1. Love those, Ramona! Here were mine:
    Jeff Haden – “idea” should be a verb

    Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

    As Pablo Picasso said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

    “Always be humble and gracious. Always be a light in the room that ignites everyone else.”

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  2. I’m honored to be included in your top gems from the Pennwriters Conference. I can’t claim all the credit, someone else told it to me some years ago. It was like spaghetti on the wall for me, too, therefore I had to pass it on. I feel awful not remembering who that wise person was right now. Lovely gems from Susan and Gayle, thank you for sharing. And I do hope you’ll post when you open the boxes, because I’m not going to rest until I find out what’s in them.

    Like

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