Writing, in general, is a lonely line of work. Writers can work in isolation for hours and hours, submerged in the world of their projects, barely surfacing for meals, getting dressed and interaction with other humans. There are some exceptions to this life of seclusion- -critique groups, readings, book signing events and the isolation-buster of them all, the writers conference.

Conference! Women Writing the West at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla, WA, October 25-28, 2018.

This week I emerge from my shell for the 24th annual conference of Women Writing the West (WWW). We’re meeting in Walla Walla, WA, the land of wheat, wine and windmills, plus oodles of western history.


The location is handy for me because hey, I live here! However, I still have to grapple with my usual conference demons and, because of my place of residency, some extras.

I missed the day of Girl Training that covered the delights of wearing makeup. True, I’ve learned the craft of refining my face through both decades of theatre and a 20-week course at John Robert Powers School of Finishing and Modeling, but that was a long time ago. The last time I wore makeup, aside from lipstick, was a year ago when I had a photo taken in support of a young woman who was undergoing breast cancer surgery. My pale pink t-shirt cried out for a more colorful countenance; as a breast cancer survivor, I felt it was my duty to look as alive as possible.

The last time I wore makeup: October, 2017, in support of Toni Boutilier.

Today I hauled my Ziploc bag of makeup out of the bathroom drawer that is designated for things I might need but not very often. And whew, I still have a partial bottle of eye makeup remover! Today I’ll do a technical rehearsal, to see if 1. I still know how makeup works and 2. determine if it makes enough of a difference to bother with. I’ll also hunt up the pantyhose I bought for the last conference I attended (2015) and check for runs and snags. Sense memory reminds me that these have an aggressive control top feature, handy for smashing down those delicious conference meals that always include a decadent dessert.

A neglected assortment of makeup, with remover.

Human beings are flawed, at best. Years ago I posted a blog about New Year’s resolutions. My two goals were to stay current in reading professional publications and to keep my shoes polished. The publications reading habit has improved (I now do this in the bathroom) but I’ve consistently missed the shoe polishing mark. It doesn’t take much time, just two pairs of boots and two pairs of shoes, all of them black. But. . .somehow I just can’t. This is hard to figure out because when I was a little kid I loved to polish my dad’s shoes and got two cents a pair for doing so. Hmmm. Maybe a few pennies would do the trick?

A herd of disreputable footwear.

I’ve dusted off the shoulders of my go-to conference clothes, mostly black and white pieces with colorful accessory options. This is a fortunate palette as I’ll be taking a break from the conference Friday to attend the graveside service of a former neighbor and dear friend. It’s interesting, attending a conference in Walla Walla- -I’m still engaged in my day-to-day home life to the extent that there are things I want and need to do outside of the conference.

And there’s something else, too. Because I live here, I was recruited to be book store coordinator for the conference book store. I’ve truly enjoyed working with Jannelle Bruns of Book & Game of Walla Walla (http://www.bookandgame.com/), discussing logistics and processing registration forms from fifty attending authors. Book store check-in is Thursday, with hours 9-5 Friday and 9-4 Saturday. Saturday 5-6 PM is an author signing event, all 50 of us together in the Empire Room at the gorgeous Marcus Whitman Hotel. What could possibly go wrong? But, in case it does, I have some practical solutions. Defusing Angry People: Practical Tools for Handling Bullying, Threats and Violence (Kevin Fauteux, Ph.D., MWS. M.Div. © 2011) is a title I checked out for research on a writing project, but if the knowledge gained can be harnessed for additional use. . .

In case of emergency, refer to book.

The conference book store is open to the public, so if you live in Walla Walla or are visiting October 26 and 27 I hope you’ll stop in and peruse a diverse selection of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, mostly pertaining to women in the west. And yes, some WWW members and authors are male.

I’ll be spending a lot of time in the book store so perhaps we’ll have a chance to say hello. Having seen the titles in advance, I’m already plotting my holiday gift-giving list and plan to make several purchases. Thanks, in advance, to all the conference attendees and volunteers, the wonderful participating authors, the excellent folk from Book & Game of Walla Walla and especially WWW Conference Chair Shanna Hatfield for seeing this huge undertaking through from the start.

Now where are those darn pantyhose?

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