How can I capture the excitement I feel about my first All Write conference?
I arrived in Warsaw, stumbled onto the hotel while trying to find the high school, and decided to check in quickly before heading to the high school for early registration. As I headed down the long hallway, I spied two women ahead of me. I overheard a few words and convinced myself that they were teachers attending the All Write Conference. I glimpsed only the backs of their heads, but was surprised when they stopped at the door just beyond mine. I was pretty sure that one of those women was Elsie (aka LeAnn)! I wanted to run over and ask, "Are you Elsie?" Even though we had never met in person, I know Elsie! She bikes, she loves books and workshops, she travels, she writes frequently about nature, and she illustrates her posts with beautiful photos. I nominated her my first year of slicing as someone who encouraged me on my fledgling writing journey. We were selected by the random number generator to receive prizes of DVDs from Choice Literacy. I had long hoped to meet her and if my prediction was correct, we were neighbors at the hotel.
I dropped my bags and headed off to find the high school. I'm not especially savvy about finding things, so I asked the desk clerk for directions to the high school. I turned left instead of right as I exited the hotel and was hopelessly lost. I wished that I had learned how to use the google maps app on my phone that my son-in-law had installed recently, but decided that now was not the time to explore it. I watched as the minutes ticked away, gave up on finding the high school before dinner, and picked up my printed Google map directions to The Boathouse on Winona Lake. I lingered in the car a few moments trying to muster my courage. I phoned my niece and told her this would be much easier with her by my side (we're workshop buddies, but she's teaching summer school).
My fears melted away as I entered the dining room and listened to the chatter of my blogging friends. I wandered over, introduced myself to Elsie, and mentioned that she was my next-door neighbor at the hotel. I met Elsie's companion from the hotel, Nanc from the blog Two years and finishing strong. She has a bubbly personality that matches her encouraging signature-xoxo. I loved spending time with her on Thursday and was sad that she had to leave after just one day. The next blogger that was on my "must meet list" was Linda of Teacher Dance, an amazing blogger and poet who has a prolific number of comments every week. When I asked how she finds the time to respond to so many of us, she told me that she's read essays for years and that she reads fast and writes fast. I met Betsy of Chalk-A-Bration fame who blogs at Teaching Young Writers. I want to participate in that event sometime this summer. There were many others that I met, and I cherish each conversation.
During dinner I discovered that more than 500 people would be at the conference tomorrow. I wanted to freeze this moment in time so that I could meet all the bloggers who were there that evening. I asked Ruth if there was a way to encourage the group to spend some time mingling after dinner. She responded by asking to introduce ourselves, give our blog name, and mention a bit about our journey as writers. What a gift that was to hear from each person present that evening! This dinner marked the beginning of 63 hours of delight filled with learning, laughter, and lots of stories. The conference was inspiring and the time spent together strengthened our ties as friends. We mentioned many of you who couldn't join us by name, then by blog title, and then by describing how your blog looked. (I think next year we should figure out how to include a photo of our blogs on our name tags.) We took lots of photographs (thank you, Bonnie, for your great camera, skill in photography, and willingness to email photos), shared phone numbers and emails, and cemented the friendships we had begun as slicers sharing stories.
Elsie and Ramona
Here's what I wrote about Elsie back in March, 2012.
"What a challenge – to pick one of my new blogger friends from this incredible world. I relish each comment I receive, but the prize has to go to Elsie, my fellow workshop lover! When I sliced about getting to spend the day with Smokey Daniels, her comment, "I am soooo jealous" made me wish she could join us for the day. She lives in Missouri and I grew up in Oklahoma, so there’s a bit of geographic connection there for me. She noticed some of the craft (word choice) in one of my early posts and makes me want to try harder to slice in a writerly way!
Little did I know then that I would get to meet her in person and share workshop time with her at All Write 2013!
Deb, Christy, Tammy
Ruth, Mary Helen, Elsie, Linda
Presenting the Grand Dames of Commenting - Elsie (LeAnn) and Linda!
Perfect caption for Elsie and Linda's photo! I love this line from your slice: "and cemented the friendships we had begun as slicers sharing stories."ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing today!
Love this. You have captured your excitement so well. Like you, I am always amazed at Linda and Elsie's commenting ability. They are everywhere and they always say just the right things! Love the pics!ReplyDelete
Ramona, you make my heart sing with joy at your words. What a truly special time we had! I noticed you said "next year" so will you be heading back? I hope to return also.ReplyDelete
BTW I listened to Liar & Spy on the return trip. I liked it, what a great intro for talking about bullying.
Ramona, you are dear to write such a delicious post of all our fun! I loved spending time together, and hearing about your work in your school. I hope we'll keep this connection strong! Thanks for all the wonderful words!ReplyDelete
Wow. Just. Wow. I see this is going to be my slicing day - reading about this wonderful gathering and delighting in what an amazing experience it was for all of you!ReplyDelete
Ramona, this was a great retelling of some wonderful events. I'm already looking forward to returning to All Write next year!ReplyDelete
Ramona, I think this might be my first visit to your blog! (So sorry, but I'm not sure!) But look what I have been missing! I love how you captured your feelings throughout from anticipation to nervous to excitement and calm and comfortable as Linda mentioned in her post today. What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing the tidbits and lucky you to be surrounded with such great company!ReplyDelete
It was so good to spend the conference days with you Ramona. What an open and honest post. We all feel that feeling of being helplessly lost and then found in a circle of friends. I'm so glad we had time to get to know each other.ReplyDelete
Loved your photos. You gave another reason to attend conferences and speak up; to meet wonderful people that you have previously only met virtually.ReplyDelete
Ramona, I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know you better. You added to the joy of the conference. Love the pictures. I look forward to reading your slices throughout the year and hopefully will see you again. :)Mary HelenReplyDelete
I love the title of this post--it is really a HIGH, isn't it? So hard to capture the essence of it in words, and yet you've done it! So glad you gathered the courage to get out of that car! It was great to meet you and spend time getting to know you.ReplyDelete
I love it! As I've traveled from blog to blog I've so enjoyed the stories. I really wish I would have gone, and am going to have to make it a priority next year. Thanks for sharing your journey. It must be fun to move from blog to blog today putting voices, faces, and personalities with the wonderful words.