Returning to real life after the PNWA Conference is always a bit squiffy for me. (Yes, I am aware that "squiffy" is not a word. But it should be.) Four days of concentrated writing, the society of other writers, writing workshops, featured speakers on writing...it's lovely. Writers are their own kind of weird, and I think that's the thing that helps me the most every year. It's a companionable weirdness, a solidarity, and it encourages me that I'm not alone in this obsession with words and stories. Writers may be famously introverted and depressed, but those things considered they are very encouraging people. I never feel any sense of competition. Everybody wants everybody else to succeed, because if they succeed it means you can too. Also, it's one of very few places where you can mention having arguments with your characters or reading the dictionary for fun without being branded a psycho.
So once again I've returned to the real world, but I hope I've carried a piece of that atmosphere back with me, and through contact with writer friends met there I will keep hold of it throughout the year to come. The biggest thing I came away with this year was a new sense of determination and discipline in my writing. This is what I've wanted since I was a little girl. Only I can make it happen. Also, in going through old manuscripts the other day I realized that I am currently working on my sixth novel. What matter that the first four I wouldn't dream of showing to anyone? Those were practice, and I never have to write that terrible "first novel" again. Hurrah!