Friday, April 19, 2013

One of Those Days

Last weekend, I went on a two day road trip with three friends from the Bayou Writers’ Group in Lake Charles. We had the privilege to attend the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference hosted by the Terrebonne Parish Library in Houma, Louisiana. It’s a terrific small conference year after year, where they treat participants well for a great price. This year’s keynote speaker was Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, and he didn’t disappoint. Listeners were treated to personal antidotes where Mr. O'Brien demonstrated his storytelling style of writing.

Several agents and editors from New York attended, and I wanted to take advantage of the one-on-one book pitch sessions being offered. From experience I knew these 10 minute appointments went fast, and I needed to sign up early. Not a good self-promoter, I usually shoot myself (or wished I had) during the interview process, so I rose that morning to meditate and prepare in my room.
I walked the short distance from the hotel to the library where the conference is held, thinking I had arrived in plenty of time. The woman at the table informed me, “There are only two editors left with times available.” I perused the names and asked about my editor of choice, Monique Patterson. The helper with the clipboard checked the schedules confident that Monica was already booked. To her surprise and my glee the name on the first slot had been scratched threw, not once, but twice, leaving it open for me. My confidence in prayer sored, as I returned to the hotel to meet my friends.
They were sitting in the lobby, where I discovered one of my writer companions had awoke having health issues that necessitated a wheelchair, or she wouldn’t be able to attend the conference. Being a Methodist, I had noticed a United Methodist church across the street from the library and hotel. The concierge called the number, but no one answered. Of course it was Saturday, I thought, listening to the machine. However, the pastor left his cell number.
Boldly, I called and identified myself (like he’d know me), explained our problem in one sentence, and asked if the church had a wheelchair they might loan us for the day. He immediately said, “Can you come right now?” He was on site, preparing for a funeral.
We shuffled to our waiting SUV and drove across the street. Pastor Don Ross, wearing his blue suit and tie, met us at the front door, wheeled the chair down the walk, and helped us load it. We exchanged a few pleasantries with simple return instructions and waved good-by. In ten minutes we were at the conference, on time with a rolling front row seat.
Listening to the morning greeting, I knew the interview would go fine. Calm and professional, I met the challenge and my fears with confidence—someone smarter than me was in charge.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you at the conference Chris. Wonderful story here. Thanks for the motivation!