Happy Thanksgiving from guest blogger Elizabeth Bard

This is, or rather was, Marie-Hortense, last year’s Thanksgiving turkey in Paris. Why, you may ask, such a dignified name for our she-bird? I’d tell you. But then I’d have to kill you. Suffice it to say, there were some at the table who thought a certain Marie-Hortense would benefit from a sprig of rosemary up the bum.

This year, Thanksgiving seems to have snuck up on me. I’m just back from a 3 week trip to the US. Still up at 4am every morning from the jetlag. I doubt anyone in our tiny Provencal village even knows it’s a holiday; so I will go on with business as usual: buy some salmon and dorade from the fishmonger at our Thursday market, work for a few hours in my local cafe. I’m organizing my winter pantry, cocao powder and lots of whole wheat pasta – as they are predicting snow this weekend.

One thing that happens when no one around you is frantically cooking, polishing silver or planning their 5am Black Friday shopping marathon, is that you have a little time to think about what Thanksgiving really means. I’m a perfectionist, which means I am often ungrateful. I expect too much – of myself, and of everything and everyone around me. I often forget to give thanks for the many gifts life has given me: a son who smiles all the time, a man who can tile a floor and recite poetry, a family who loves me even when I bite back, friends who can finish my sentences, a job that engages my head and my heart, and a new, glorious landscape to explore.

So this year, I’ve decided to take the day off. From myself. Today, I will not feel behind. I will not worry about being a better wife, mother, daughter, housekeeper or writer. I’ll be having quite an ordinary day, but I’ll be thinking and thanking – instead of fretting and fixing. We all need one day a year when we meet our own expectations, and allow the world to be as it is, instead of exactly how we would like it to be.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. http://www.elizabethbard.com/2010/11/turkey-named-marie-hortense.html

Why Attend Conferences?

Giving up a weekend to travel and spend time hearing pitches and
critiquing writing samples never seemed like a good use of time, and in truth I’d rather be home on my couch reading a full manuscript of something I’m sure I can sell.

But I’m ready to revise that view after spending a lovely and productive weekend in Myrtle Beach at the South Carolina Writers Workshop. I met many new writers and was impressed with the dedication and passion the attendees brought to the conference. Publishing is a mysterious world to those on the outside (and sometimes even to those of us on the inside) and hopefully my workshops shed valuable light on the art of writing memoir and the journey of finding an agent and getting published.

A big bonus was getting to meet the other faculty members-many of whom I had never before met, and I was thrilled to spend time with the lovely and talented Therese Fowler (see photo) who, in spite of our frequent phone calls and emails I rarely get to see. I loved our sunrise run on the beach each morning and the crazy martinis (pomegranate and lime juice?) were the perfect way to finish the days.

So I guess the answer to my question here is that it’s good to get out of the New York publishing cocoon. I have several excellent projects that I scored at the conference and am very happy for the time spent with new friends.

Until the next time…
-WS