Sunday, May 26, 2013

When does something go from being an event to something more?

We all have events in our lives - the kids need to be picked up from school, time to worm the animals- you know the every day in and outs of living. I've been to lots of events. Marketing meetings, seminars and fund raisers. I've seen some of the shows that redefined Broadway productions.Sometimes what we expect to be an event with the little "e" becomes an Event, capital "E." The capital E moments are the ones that leave their impression long after the incident is over. There are good Events - graduation day, wedding days, the moment your child is born - that often are the culmination of lots of small events. There are the horrible Events that steal your breath away and fundamentally change you - September 11, the death of a parent or child, the diagnosis of cancer or the loss of innocence.

But when does an occurrence cross the line from just something that happened to an Event?

For me, the crossover happens when there's a fundamental change in how I see or interact with the world. Sometimes we're lucky enough to realize when an Event is happening. Other times we only recognize the paradigm shift in its aftermath.

 The first time I heard Tracy Hickman tell his story about how one of his stories touched a soldier was one of those moments. The first time I heard James A. Owen tell his story and draw his dragon was another.

I spent the year between the 2012 Superstars and 2013 Superstars in professional turmoil for my day job. My law firm of 5 years was splitting up. I could join the D.C. office, but my title of "partner" would be just that - a title. Rather than do that, or go out on my own and face the uncertain income stream that entailed, I decided to join a firm that promised to treat me like an equal, and in six months we'd renegotiate my compensation (base salary plus a percentage of the collection) and my status in the hopes of making me a full equity partner.

That situation didn't work out like I'd hoped. After the managing partner blew off yet another meeting about my future with the firm to get a haircut - yes, you read that right, he left to get a haircut, or at least that's what he told me-, I had a decision to make. Having the managing partner skip out of a meeting with me for a haircut was a wake up call. Now what was I going to do about it?

The firm offered me insurance and a regular paycheck. I wanted those things for my family. My husband has run his own firm or been part of a two partner firm for most of his career. There are months where he won't bring home any income, followed by a month with LARGE checks from his court appointed work. Right now he's working on a case that, if he's lucky, will pay him in February 2014. Yup, you read that right too - 9 months from now. So, I thought about James.

James has a saying, "Never give up what you want most for what you want most right now."

What did I want most - to be part of a firm where what I could do and who I am was valued. Where I didn't feel like the partners were sabotaging me.

What did I want most right then? A paycheck so I could keep my kids in their school and keep their life somewhat stable.

When I thought about it that way, the choice was clear.

So, because the managing partner refused to meet with me, I quit by e-mail and gave him ten days' notice.  That decision caused about three months of hassle with the old firm and I still have a target on me as far as they are concerned. But, it was the right choice for LOTS of reasons.

Anyway, I hung out my shingle on February 1, 2013. I agonized about taking a week off for Superstars 2013, but then I'd already committed to Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta to help out. What I want most is to be a person of her word. Again, the choice was clear.

Superstars 2013 was an EVENT. Not just for me, but for lots of people.

I could quote all the blog posts about it., but it's better, I think, just to send you to them.

Nathan Barra wrote - Expectations and Hope Rewarded - you can find his post at:

Sam Knight wrote "A Lightning Strike on Your Writing Career: Seriously you NEED to read this one." You can read  If you've read my short story collection, Paths Less Traveled, you know lightning strikes has a special place in my heart.

Terry Odell shared her insights from the seminar in a multipost blog starting here.

Mark Leslie wrote - Top 10 Takeaways from Superstars Writing Seminar. You can find that post here

To Mark's quotes, I'll add the following:

"It does not matter if you are published, it matters if you are READ." - Tracy Hickman.

"It's the bad books that make you a better writer." - Joan Ann Johnson.

Superstars  is an Event for me. Not only did I get to see lots of friends from previous Superstars and meet fabulous new people. I got to look behind the curtain and make Kevin and Rebecca's life easier. As part of the non-session outing to Star Trek, I met a lovely family and got to talk to a young man about his dream about being a writer. And discovered that his father also harbored the dream.

Like Sam, I saw the lightning sparkle and strike for many people this year. Sure, some of those strikes won't ignite the rocket Sam refers to, but surprising number will.

Really, people. Why weren't you there? I hope I'll see you next year.

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