How I Conquered My Book Eating Pigeons (or writing conferences are awesome)

A car crashes into a writer’s bedroom. The final line of her manuscript (the only manuscript that can save the world from fictitious book eating pigeons) is left unwritten. Will anyone ever read it? Will her story ever be told?

Pigeon flying

A book eating pigeon poised to attack.  (Pigeon in Flight. Image courtesy of quinet via  Flickr CC Lic. 2.0)

A young woman leaves her “day job” to write insanely humorous urban fantasy. Follow her as she skyrockets to the top of the industry and remodels her house to include a dark, but well lit library.

study or library

My dark, but well lit future library complete with magical potions, because writing is magical. (Study. Image courtesy of CodyR via Flickr CC 2.0)

These aren’t the plots of Hollywood movies. These are the types of thoughts that run through my mind at night. And by night I mean while in bed desperately trying to fall asleep.

These thoughts can usually be divided into two very distinct categories: Fortune and Fame or Doom and Gloom. Examples:

Fortune and Fame – I can’t wait to sell the first million copies of my book!

Doom and Gloom – What if I never finish the book? What if something happens to me, and my manuscript remains the gooey, messy, but delightful draft that only I’ve read?

Fortune and Fame  – This trip will be amazing! Our Mardi Gras costumes will be the best anyone has ever seen and we’ll be on the front page of every newspaper and meet Angelina and Brad.

Doom and Gloom – Unless our plane crashes into an alligator infested swamp.

Yeah, I might have a little anxiety … countered by delusions of grandeur.

I don’t know why my brain does this. Someone please explain to me the evolutionary advantage of keeping myself up all night worrying about book eating pigeons or fantasizing about my Oscar speech for a book that doesn’t even have a title yet.

But I digress.

This weekend I attended the Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) in Colorado Springs, CO and guess what? I learned things. I learned new ways to think about things. I learned that “things” isn’t a very strong word. Well, I already knew that, but I liked the use of anaphora.

Crows reading

Me looking up the word anaphora. What? You didn’t know I was a crow, with other crow friends? (Reader. Image courtesy of h.koppdelaney via Flickr CC 2.0)

When I sunk into my couch yesterday afternoon, I was filled with a range of emotions, the best being exhilaration. Although, you couldn’t tell from my slack jaw and glazed over eyes.

The conference was three days of workshops, pitch sessions, critique sessions and writerly fun. At times it was overwhelming, and the realities of the writing life can be daunting.

While I was splayed on the couch, my husband asked if I felt discouraged. I didn’t even have to think about my answer. No, I wasn’t discouraged. In fact, I have never felt more encouraged, supported and empowered. I’ve never loved being a writer more.

When 8:00 p.m. rolled around, I was semi-conscious and drooling on a throw pillow. So, I decided to go to bed. And then it happened – I couldn’t sleep. I was up for hours. I reworked my first two chapters in my mind, pondered marketing strategies and, of course, pictured myself walking down the red carpet. There was no worrying, no negative thoughts. Only the positive flowed through my mind.

So, goodbye Doom and Gloom. From here on out, I’m focusing on Fortune and Fame.

Thank you PPWC!


33 thoughts on “How I Conquered My Book Eating Pigeons (or writing conferences are awesome)

  1. Marcy says:

    It does seem your conference was empowering. That happens to me almost every night. I fall asleep at about 9 PM, while struggling to watch some recorded show that I really want to see. Then lights out for real at 10:30 and bang, I am wide awake. Unlike you and your young brain, what I think about as I try to get sleep to come is my meal planning for the upcoming week. That is my 60-something year old brain. Yes, sorry, you do have some old-timers that follow your blog!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Good for you. Conferences can be invigorating and motivating. Sounds like yours was. I’ve had those nights, too where my brain is suddenly alive, full of writing ideas. In fact, I think much of our writing takes place in our minds, without our fingers ever touching the keyboard. 🙂

    • jennifer Windram says:

      I think the conference came just at the right time. I was feeling a little discouraged and unmotivated – mostly about the time I was spending writing. I wasn’t making it a priority. Now, I feel like I’m back on track.

      Yes – I get tons of ideas in bed (when trying to fall asleep or first thing in the morning) or in the shower.

  3. lindsaycummingswrites says:

    My motivation and inspiration is at an all time high. Now we just have to continue the momentum. I love this post! Book eating pigeons are the worst! We must help one another keep them at bay. Throw them our scrap blog entries or darlings that we excommunicate…then they will be too distracted to steal the novels:)

  4. April says:

    I am glad you are getting rid of the doom and gloom. I can’t wait to read your book! Some day, you’ll be having coffee with Brad and Angelina talking about how silly doom and gloom thoughts get us nowhere. I wonder if those two have any doom and gloom thoughts?

    • jennifer Windram says:

      I’m guessing it will be a constant battle to keep the doom and gloom thoughts at bay, but I feel like I have better tools right now.

      Yes. Coffee with Brad and Angelina. I can picture it now. You do wonder what they think about at night. I even wonder if other (non-famous) people have the crazy thoughts that run through my head.

  5. Tamara says:

    Cah-cah!! Hey crow friend! Fortune and Fame – you’re on your way; you’ve got what it takes!!! I love your writing and your humor. Always a joy to read your stuff!!!! Now, where’s that book? 😉

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Hi Tamara! The book is coming. I swear!!! It’s probably good that’s taking me some time to get through the revisions. I feel like it keeps getting better and better. You’ll be first to read it when I’m done!

  6. Trent Lewin says:

    You know, good on you Jennifer! Finally, an honest writer who dreams and pines about fame and fortune and isn’t afraid to say so. Shoot high, I say. And get that book finished!

  7. Nicole Roder says:

    Good for you! I’ve been to one writing conference and I loved it! By the way, I often keep myself up at night for the same reasons! I imagine selling my first book and taking my family to Disney to celebrate, or just writing something so amazing that everyone I know drools over it. (Actually, whenever I write something that I’m particularly proud of, even if it was just a Facebook comment, I tend to re-read it about a hundred times.) But I also obsess over terrible things happening. Not necessarily to my books, but a horrible car accident or one of my kids falling off a bridge or something. God help me!

    • jennifer Windram says:

      Yeah, I wasn’t sure about the conference at first. I didn’t feel ready. But now I think it’s the best thing I could have done.

      I love to daydream (or night dream, while not sleeping) about my amazing future writing career. I’m usually thinking about the farm I’ll have with a huge library and then, of course, my home in New Orleans. You have to dream, right?

      The “bad” thoughts are terrible, aren’t they? And I do wonder if other people have them too. I never used to, but the more TV and news programming that I watch, the more I worry about a tree falling on my house or getting sucked into a sinkhole. Maybe I should just turn the TV off!

      • Nicole Roder says:

        Oh my gosh, I’ve imagined accidentally stabbing my dog in the eye with a chopping knife while I was cooking, my van plunging over the side of a bridge and having to rescue all 3 of my kids and swim to safety, one of my kids’ schools being attacked by some crazy school shooter. I should stop before you think I’m insane. :/ I really am a normal person. I think.

        • jennifer Windram says:

          I don’t think you’re insane at all – I have very similar things run through my mind. It probably doesn’t help that I’m a nurse and used to work in the ICU. It’s amazing all the weird ways you can get hurt. I took care of one guy who was in a car accident and had a terrible head injury after getting hit in the back of the head with a 12 pack of beer that was in his back seat. Now, I hate riding in the car with anything big and heavy – projectiles, I call them. They have to go in the trunk. I wonder if a lot of people have weird thoughts like this and we’re the only ones willing to talk about it.

          I swear I’m sane too. And I’m pretty much always focused on the positive. But every now and then one of these weird, bad thoughts creeps in and I have to shoo it away.

          Maybe that’s why we’re writers – we have wild imaginations for both the good and the bad 🙂

  8. suzjones says:

    Good to see you again girl.
    You’re not the only one with doom and gloom thoughts. I keep berating myself for not finding the time to begin pulling my book together and actually committing it to paper instead of keeping it in my head.

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