Wednesday, January 30, 2013

As Good as it Gets

Look! A new picture of me speaking at a conference! And this was no ordinary conference. Oh, no my friends. This was the Story @ Home conference, 2012.

I had a great time at this conference. At one point, I sat down at the piano and played 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.' Yes, in my presentation. How could I not? There was a nine-foot Steinway just sitting there, completely unsupervised. What would you have done? Ignored the poor thing?

No. You would have waltzed right over to it, lifted the lid, and used the last 16 measures of the aforementioned 'Battle Hymn' to demonstrate the idea that tension drives music, just like it drives narrative.



This year's conference has me thinking in different directions. I've been asked to speak on how blogging has been something of a 'path of self-discovery.' Anyone who knows how I went from being a tobacco farmer in 19th century Georgia to a writer and public speaker will tell you that it all came as a result of blogging. One day I was yanking the drapes out of the window and fashioning a ball gown out of them, and the next I was up on a stage, pinning a mic to my blouse and yapping about the Hero's Journey.

It's a funny old world, isn't it?

The truth is, I love talking about story. And this time around, I'm going to explore the possibilities inherent in writing a better, more enriching narrative for ourselves. Remember Jack Nicholson, turning to a waiting room full of psychiatric patients and asking them, "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Well, that scene fried itself into my cranium. There are moments that, if they were all life had to offer, would be enough -- the birth of a child, or the discovery that hot fudge lowers blood pressure and dissolves chin hairs.

But if we aren't vigilant, if we start making molehills into anthills and anthills into gopher holes, before we know it we're living a story that's completely unworthy of us. And then we're stuck in that waiting room, at risk of answering 'yes' to Jack's terrible question, when all that it would take would be a great plot twist, maybe something involving pirates, and we'd be off on a narrative adventure that writes well because it was lived well.

So that's what we'll be talking about in my workshop.

NOW, here's something exceptionally cool: This year, the Story @ Home conference is joining forces with the RootsTech conference, which is a massive Family History conference held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. And for $79, you can get a pass to the whole dealio! Three days of presentations, workshops, training and enthusiasm for all things story. Honestly, the vendor floor alone will be awesome, with everything from books and recordings from your favorite writers and storytellers to all the technology necessary to track down those wild and wacky ancestors and find out once and for all just who was responsible for the family tendency to grow noses you could cut timber with.

AND, if you use the code URSTRY13, you can save $10 on the pass.

Mark your calendars for March 21-23, 2013, and join me in Salt Lake for three of the most enjoyable, entertaining, and motivating days you'll have all year.

And you can't miss me! I'll be the one in the ball gown.


LisAway said...

I have never spoken at a writing conference without skipping to the piano and playing 16 measures of Battle Hymn of the Republic at least once during the presentation, and that is a fact.

You have me dreaming! I love that this conference happens and I hope to attend it some day. Happy for those who get to attend!

Dixie Mom said...

I'm sure your rousing piano rendition got everyone's attention! Good idea.
I think this conference is a great way to help people work on their own personal history stories. How about making them interesting and readable for generations? I would love to go.

Becca said...

Remember Carol Burnett doing that Scarlett scene? When she gets in the curtains with the rod still attached? *sigh* I love Carol.

Also you. And you make me laugh like she does.

seashmore said...

I've always had a pipe dream of going to the RootsTech conference. Now, I'll have to make it a real dream.

Kristina P. said...

Dood, I won a ticket on Emily's blog! And by won, I mean bribed her with a Diet Coke from Sonic.