Sightseeing At A Writer's Conference

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I was in New York for a writer’s conference last week, which my wife happened to mention to her mother. My mother-in-law enjoys travelling and sightseeing, and so was excited to know what I might get out to see in between classes. Would I visit Central Park or the Library, or maybe take a tour of Rockefeller Center? “Honestly, mom,” my wife answered, “I think Bill is always just looking to have a good conversation.”

It’s true. Though I have managed to see a few sights in my life: The Tower of London and Piccadilly Square; the ruined castles of Dublin’s countryside and the frothy Irish Sea at midnight; the Hoover Dam, the Ozark Mountains, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. There were plenty of others as well, just as worthy of seeing but less famous – any ocean, any lake, any forest, any town and crisscrossing roads from the God’s Eye view of a plane.

Each and every sight inspired me in some way at that time, though each and every sight is nothing but a memory now, seen and known only through the shifting lens of my imagination. As with everything I have ever seen or done, they are now fodder for the stories I will tell. For that I am grateful. But if given a choice between a trip to Grand Central Station or a great conversation in my hotel lobby, I’ll take the conversation every time.

In fact, I did get out of the hotel once that weekend. I made a new writer friend and we went across the street to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks. We then sat outside on a bench and talked about the writing life, surrounded by New York and the streams of people and looming towers, the food trucks, the two cops joking on the corner, and the distant sounds of a parade marching by. Yet all that faded from my awareness while we talked about a book my new friend might write, and her new agent, and the pleasures of teaching, and the strange mystery of finding a story’s true ending.

Soon our coffee cups were empty, and we realized it was really quite hot outside, and it was time to get back to our rooms and gather our things for our flights home. I got up from the bench with much the same feeling I’ve come to know after a good morning of writing. I’d taken a trip somewhere interesting with a friendly and interesting companion, and we saw something new I don’t think I could have seen alone. It was mine now, however, and I could share it when I wanted in a view of life we call a story.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.

William Kenower1 Comment