Friday, March 11, 2011


By Susan

I first met Pamela Hammonds, Elizabeth Lynd and Joan Mora (three of the fabulous writers here on What Women Write) at the DFW Writer’s Conference in February, 2009. Here is an archived post from that first weekend with my impression of my new friends and my terror at entering the world of "real writers." I’ve come a long way, and still have a long way to go. Just goes to show how important--and long lasting--a community of writers can be. Enjoy!

I had the opportunity to attend my first writer’s conference this weekend. Saturday night, after a full day of pitch practice, seminars, and trying-not-to-look-like-the-new-girl, I was in a near panic about my upcoming 10-minute session on Sunday morning with an agent to discuss my novel-in-progress.

Practicing your pitch feels like the sales training I endure in my real life: What is your elevator pitch? How can you summarize your product (book) in 25 words or less? Can you do it in 250 words? Can you sell it to an agent?

I decided, after writing it--tearing it up, writing, scribbling it out--that I WAS NOT READY. So I decided to forego my agent pitch. I decided to opt out.

And then, Sunday morning, I met Pamela. She writes for a living. She was pitching her completed novel, and it’s her second novel. She pitched it to the agent, and he asked for the first two chapters. First steps toward success!

Now I must digress, because I have never met a full blown Pamela, just Pams. Secondly, my childhood imaginary friend was named Pamela: Pamela Allen, to be exact. Pamela Allen cleaned my room, minded my mother, washed behind my ears, and was the author of my short stories, many done in crayon. Pamela Allen was the perfect me, while I was the normal me. Not perfect.

The real Pamela I met Sunday introduced me to her friends, calmed my nerves, and gave me pointers on my pitch. I decided to talk to the agent after all. Pamela, much like my old childhood imaginary friend, gave me comfort.

My children do not have imaginary friends. My oldest daughter Parker is too literal for such nonsense, and always has been. Instead of an imaginary friend for comfort, she has her favorite pair of toe-socks, which she named her ”woobeesah.” I asked Pey, my little one, if, by chance, she had an imaginary friend. She looked puzzled. “No, Mommy, but I do have Lion!” Lion, a gift from my father to her three years ago, goes everywhere with Pey, including her sleepover Saturday night with our best friends across the street. A sleepover, I must add, that Pey was not so sure about. What if she missed her Mommy? What if it stormed? Could she come home, she asked, if she had a bad dream in the middle of the night?

No, I had answered her. But she could come home before they went to sleep if she thought it was a better idea.

So, of course, at 10:40 p.m., my husband and I heard a soft tap on the front door. Standing there, in a yellow nightie with Lion under one arm and her suitcase under the other, was Pey. My neighbor Kimberly stood at the end of the drive, smiling and waving to me in the dark. My little Pey, my tough, independent Pey. She looked up at me with her big green eyes. “Well, I missed you, Mommy,” she said matter-of-factly, and then climbed into our bed and promptly fell asleep, Lion in the crook of her arm, her hand tucked sweetly into mine. Comfort.

Sometimes, when we are not ready, it’s good to find the comfort of the familiar.

And it all made me think about comfort, and how much we crave and need it--especially when life is uncertain or we are out of our element. Parker has socks. Pey has Lion. I had Pamela Allen. And Sunday, I had the comfortable support from a new network of writers. I did meet with the agent, and I stumbled through a rambling description of my work in progress. I did make new friends. I did learn about where I need to go with my novel (the agent wants to see it, by the way). And in the end, it was all quite comfortable.

Whether it’s socks, an imaginary friend, a Lion, or a real friend, comfort is one thing I suppose we never get too old for. And I, for one, am thankful for it.

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