I'm lucky. On the way home from the Glen Lake Fall Conference, I get to debrief and decompress with Gloria since we ride together. We talked over the exercise we did on Saturday night--everyone had a sheet of paper on his/her back and had to go around and write on everyone else's piece of paper. Write a word (or a few words) about that person and/or that person's writing. For someone like me, who analyzes every word, expression, tone of voice, this was an intense exercise. And one that I will probably continue to over-analyze. What did someone mean when he or she wrote voluminous? I write a lot? I'm bigger than I look? We talked about words having different meanings, connotations and denotations.
This led (and I'm sure it was in a fairly round-about way because that is how conversations usually go) to a discussion about what makes a conference (or most things, for that matter) a success or a failure. We came to an agreement that often it was our expectations that made the difference. If one comes expecting to write volumes (is that what voluminous means?) and doesn't, then often the conference is felt to be a failure--even if there were absolutely wonderful discussions and insights into the writing and writing process. If our expectations are met--we had great shopping trips or we finished the story we were working on (your expectations depend on who you are)--then we go back home to the real world feeling fulfilled and successful.
So how often do we miss gold just because we are looking for rubies? And does that mean we should come with no expectations at all? Surely there has to be some sort of balance, an openness to all the wonder of the moment, and yet a focus, a direction to start out at least.