In praise of writing festivals

At the beginning of November, I got in my car and took a solo road trip to Grand Marais, Minnesota, to participate in the North Shore Readers & Writers Festival: A Minnesota Voice. The trip marked the end of the busiest period of library work (September – October), a time when I probably wrote at most 500 words, and they weren’t even good ones.

I was worried I’d get snowed out, but the weather held. (It was unseasonably warm on the shores of Lake Superior.) I carted a bunch of food, some wine, and the hope that the festival would give me a chance to reflect, unwind and focus on my writing.

The festival itself was phenomenal. I met a bunch of super cool Minnesota writers. I learned a lot about craft and author promotion. I had good food, drank good wine and slept soundly. I also thought about the ways in which I do and do not prioritize writing in my life.

It’s a difficult balancing act, pursuing a writing career on top of maintaining a library career and having a family. I’ve blogged about this before – time seems to be one of my issues. Even as I was enjoying the heck out of myself at the festival, I was aware of the work piling up in the office, not to mention the deeper cut of a family who missed me almost as much as I was missing them. And of course, when I’m at the office, I’m aware of the story lines stagnating in my head and the short pieces that aren’t getting submitted. And let’s not even get into the emotional tangles of parenthood.

I don’t have an answer to this. Maybe the first step is for me to acknowledge the messiness. That I might never get to a mental or physical place where there won’t be other priorities requesting/demanding my attention. Maybe acknowledgment comes first and then I can work on how to respond by silencing those other demands for a time in order to focus 100% on the task at hand.

Hm. Any suggestions?

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