Sunday, June 11, 2017
Today I am grateful for determination. We who attend the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference are a conglomeration of all that is good about the United States of America. Boy, that sounds a little smug and self-righteous but I don’t care, because it’s true.
To me people helping people is the core of what makes our nation great. Also at that core is the many different cultures, ethnicities, ages, various stages of disability and also ability. The range is vast at the writer’s conference.
I spoke with a Native American, someone from India, England, Australia and even those sometimes strange and different lands of New Jersey and the Great Northeast of Philly. There were those whom I know have opposing political viewpoints, yet the topic did not come up once. How refreshing. Some were coping with paralyzed spouses, the recent death of family members by illness, others by suicide. Some have dealt with their own life-threatening illness. Yet they were there. Bonding over a topic they love. Writing.
After a few days I can’t help but describe the “characters”. Mostly because I am one of them. . . he big babe with the spikey hair, jewelry and scarfs. If others are still having trouble finding characters for their novel or story, then they need to be more observant. There is long skirt lady; sport coat guy; lady with a flower headband; guy with the plaid shirts; lady with the walker; young woman with the ponytail; big man with the bigger heart; taller than tall young black man; a few bushy haired ones; lady with mukluk boots; and model man with the kindness of Gandhi. And they are all wonderful!
But for me the bravest most determined attendee was the Sherlock Holmes look-a-like who read at the Saturday open mic session. Open mic is one of my favorite features of the conference. Writing is isolating. To me the work doesn’t come alive until someone else reads it and/or comments. Or I read it publicly. That’s just the best. Plus I am an audible learner so to hear someone read their “baby” makes it sink in better. If the words are correctly configured, the emotions soar off the page with the intensity of a pole jumper at the Olympics. And they did.
I was sitting in one of the last rows when “Sherlock Holmes” read, so it took me a minute to figure out what was going on. He put on thick glasses and hauled out a magnifying glass big enough to find the murder weapon in a pile of sand. And he read beautifully.
I told him so when he was done and mentioned my mom who has macular degeneration. “Her, too?” he asked. Aha, I was correct in my diagnosis.
When I asked permission to use his picture in my blog and told him how brave I thought he was to stand in front of a crowd and read, even though he might miss a few words, he said, “Oh, that doesn’t bother me. It’s not being able to drive that makes me crazy.”
We all have something. Some disability inside or out, that could keep us from doing what we love or what we want to do, however insignificant or grandiose, but it’s our determination that keeps us moving forward.