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Conference Prep–Home Work

Monday, September 1, 2008

While it’s vital to get our one-sheets and synopses finished and our pitches ready for the conference, there’s a lot of other preparation that needs to be done before attending a writing conference.

The most important thing I’m doing is praying. I don’t always spend a lot of time in prayer about myself or my plans. I know that sounds weird, but praying is not one of my spiritual gifts. When I pray, it’s usually about other people who are going through stuff that seems much more important than anything going on in my life (such as my family in the path of the hurricane). But yesterday morning at church, after hearing a sermon on how Jesus changes and redeems our lives, I started praying for two very specific things: that God would open my heart and mind to what He wants to teach/show me in the next few weeks, and that I will be spiritually and mentally prepared for the opportunities that await me in Minneapolis.

I’m also looking after my physical health. I went to the grocery store and loaded up on healthy meats and fruits and veggies, then came home and made up a meal plan for the week. Not only will this ensure that I’m on plan for Weight Watchers, it also makes sure that I’m getting the appropriate nutrition every day (five servings of fruits/veggies, three servings of dairy, 42 to 64 ounces of water a day, etc.). Even though they make me slightly queasy for an hour or two afterward, I’m also taking a multivitamin every day. I do have the advantage right now that I’m not around a lot of other people, so I’m not getting exposed to the germs that people (especially people with kids just now back in school) are carrying around. Last year at conference, I couldn’t walk, stand, or sit for long periods of time because of a flare-up and swelling of the scar-tissue in my lower back from the surgery I had in 2003, which was compressing my sciatic nerve. By losing nearly forty pounds from this time last year and by going to the gym regularly, I’ve strengthened my back so that it won’t give my any (or at the worst minimal) problems this year.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about what to pack. I’m definitely a preplanner when it comes to traveling. For weeks ahead of a long trip like this one, I make list after list of what I’m going to take to wear each day, doing my best to make sure I’m not over-packing. On a trip like this, though, where half of it is vacation and half of it is business, it’s a little harder to figure out how to get more than one wear out of each article of clothing, but I’m doing my best. I also have to think about all of the peripheral items I need to take with me—prescriptions, laptop (and various and sundry cords and plug-ins), bag for carrying everything around the conference, notepad, pens, schedule, my daily planner, business cards, MP3 player (I have to have music at night to sleep) and batteries, and so on. I’m less stressed when everything is planned and laid-out well in advance. And last year, this worked greatly to my advantage. I had a 6:15 a.m. flight on the Saturday morning before conference (to spend a few days with my parents beforehand). I had considered just staying up all night to make sure I didn’t oversleep my 4:30 a.m. cab. But around nine o’clock Friday night, after checking, double-checking, and rechecking my bags, I was getting sleepy; so I set everything beside the front door and laid out what I’d be wearing the next day and went to bed. I’d set my alarm clock (which has two alarms on it) for 4:00 a.m. At 4:30 a.m., I woke up when I heard a strange noise and realized it was my cell phone vibrating/ringing. It was the cab driver, who was sitting in my driveway waiting for me. I’d slept through both alarms for nearly 30 minutes before the alarm clock shut itself off! I was out the door in seven minutes and at the airport by 4:50 a.m. If I hadn’t gotten everything done ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been able to pull that off and would have had the added stress of worrying that I was leaving something important behind. This year, my flight is at 8:15 a.m., so my cab will be scheduled for a 6:15 a.m. pickup. I’ll be setting every single clock in my house that has an alarm (four of them) as well as the alarm-clock feature on my cell phone for 5:30 a.m. But I have a feeling I’ll be so stressed about the possibility of oversleeping again that I’ll have trouble sleeping that night.

While doing all this preplanning, I’m also preparing my house. Because I live alone, if I don’t clean the house before I go, it won’t be clean when I get home. And there’s nothing quite so depressing as coming home from a long trip to a house that’s cluttered and disorganized. So every day for the next twelve days, I’ll be setting aside a little time to work on organizing/cleaning. And this is where preplanning my meals comes in handy too, because it means that when I get to the day or two before I leave, I won’t have a bunch of stuff in the fridge to have to get rid of to keep it from spoiling. I’m also getting all of my laundry washed, ironed, and put away, even though I’m not making use of ninety-five percent of my wardrobe right now. But again, if it’s still all sitting there in the laundry basket when I come home, it’ll add to the stress that comes naturally after the climactic experience of a conference. Having a clean, organized house (and workspace, especially) enables me to have a fresh start when I come home, enables me to be able to sit down and spend time processing everything that happens at conference and go through notes and handouts that I wouldn’t be able to do if I’m having to worry about laundry or clutter.

This week, we’ll learn more about the spiritual aspect of attending a writing conference, as well as how to keep the motivation going afterward. But today, let’s talk about the little details. What are you doing right now to get ready for conference?

  1. Monday, September 1, 2008 1:25 pm

    I won’t start making my lists etc. until next week. The housecleaning is already underway. 🙂

    I’ll need to lay out lesson plans for the kids for while I’m away, organize the calendar so no one misses anything they are supposed to attend, and plan out the menu and do the shopping for the family while I’m gone.

    Then I need to tweak and print out my one sheets.


  2. Monday, September 1, 2008 1:28 pm

    Yes, but you don’t have to plan for packing everything to fit into a certain amount of space to check it onto an airplane!

    And something I just remembered that I need to finish is the devotional I’m supposed to be giving Friday morning at conference! See, this is why I need lists!


  3. Monday, September 1, 2008 4:15 pm

    I’m unable to attend the conference this year due to finances. :o(

    But I wish I could…I NEED some kind of motivation to get me back into the writing zone. The evil spirits of distraction and discouragement are winning the war with me right now, but I know who holds the victory. So what’s wrong with me?!?!?!



  4. Monday, September 1, 2008 6:49 pm

    Wow! You are a planner, Kaye! I got my 10 pages of my WF printed out today to mail off tomorrow for my crit, but other than that I haven’t really made any plans. (I do have my room and airline reservations made, tho.) I usually do the laundry and pack from the clean clothes basket! I do love the prayer you mentioned for God preparing us for what He wants to teach us. Also praying for your family and my sisters and brother and their families who live in New Orleans. Most of the guys stayed there, but my two sisters and kids are in AL hoping to go back soon.


  5. Monday, September 1, 2008 8:50 pm

    I’ll keep your organization plan in mind next year when I prepare to attend a calligraphy conference (God willin’ and the gas prices don’t rise too high). As to vitamin and queasy, the iron in the vitamin makes me queasy, take them at night instead of in the morning. You’ll be drifting off to sleep and will hardly be aware of the queasy feeling.


  6. Monday, September 1, 2008 9:39 pm

    I’m definitely a list person. Even overnight trips warrant at least one list.

    Forty lbs? Congratulations on making great strides toward better health. I too used to get nauseous from taking vitamins until my doctor advised me to take them before bed. That way you’re asleep during the nauseous period. And it works. In fact, I find that I can take them anytime after dinner and I’m okay. Guess it has to do with having a full stomach before I take them.


  7. Monday, September 1, 2008 9:53 pm

    What am I doing to get ready for the conference? Writing, stressing, printing one-sheets, revising, praying, doubting, hoping. But packing? Nope. Ain’t done it yet. (Wasn’t that a beautiful sentence?)

    Did you say 40lbs? Wow! You go girl! Congrats on that!


  8. Jess permalink
    Monday, September 1, 2008 10:28 pm

    I find it easy just to keep an overnight bag all the time, with a razor, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and everything already in it. I’m thinking of adding underwear and makeup to it so I’ll literally be able to throw my clothes in a bag and leave…wouldn’t that be awesome.
    Forty pounds is amazing! You’ll have to introduce yourself to people you met last year at the conference, since you’re a shadow of your former self!


  9. Tuesday, September 2, 2008 6:36 am

    I can so relate to sleeping through multiple alarms…the snooze button is my deadly enemy. I have to use a loud song clip on my cell phone as my alarm…a normal clock alarm doesn’t cut it. And even then, I am apt to sleep through it…


  10. Tuesday, September 2, 2008 12:33 pm

    I’m a planner too. I make lists of what I’m wearing and what to take so I don’t forget anything important. I know I’ll be bringing home more than I took so preplanning allows me to have room for the extras.

    Coming home to a clean house makes things so much easier.

    Prayer builds my confidence because I know God is in control and I can do all things through His strength.


  11. Tuesday, September 2, 2008 7:30 pm

    I’m unable to attend ACFW, but your advice is sound for any conference. The focus on prayer is sometimes neglected in favor of all the technical preparation.

    Thanks for putting Him first.

    Susan J. Reinhardt


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