The first time I attended the Flathead River Writers Conference, I was partially trying to get away from a toddler.
When I look back now at the photos of that dear toddler, Ava, I almost can’t stand how sweet that time was. But when you’re home nearly 24/7 with an active child, and the northern fall is bringing clouds and darkness, and you have almost given up hope of ever seeing the light of day again, escape is not unreasonable.
So I went to the local writer’s conference to spend two days drinking coffee with grown-ups and enjoying the privilege of closing the door all the way when I went to the restroom.
I met a literary agent there who liked the concept of my novel that I was only about 30 pages into. That novel, The Plan, about a biology professor who makes a science experiment out of looking for a man to father her child, will be available this fall, but at that moment in time, it was a long way from grown, just like Ava.
I attended the next year. The combination of an interested agent and, more importantly, privacy in the bathroom, was well worth the admission price. I had another great weekend, complicated only by having another great baby. Yes, that fall, I had a toddler and her two-month-old sister, Grace. My mother brought the baby to me during my breaks, and I was exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure.
Flathead River Writers Conference
I continued to attended the conference year after year, and as my children grew, so did my stack of manuscripts. I suffered near misses with agents, and a success or two. I certainly won the lottery when it came to amazing daughters, and I won and placed in several writing contests. But over time, the conference came to mean something to me beyond the break from domestic life, and even beyond the amazing instruction and opportunity the professionals there give so freely. I came to find my people.
I am a writer and so are the 125 people who gather there every year.
We take two days from our lives to talk about our shared love of words, the desire to write that drives us to stay up late or get up early or try to scribble down a bit of dialogue with a baby on one hip and another asking for a juice box.
And this year, my teenage daughters will tell me to have fun as they run out the door to see their friends, and I will run out the door to see mine.