A Guest Post by Lynn Huggins Blackburn
Last week we covered my personal list of must have items for all writers conferences. This week, I’m going to share with you my list of really want to have items, especially for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
These are optional, but if you’re driving and space isn’t an issue, you might want to pack some of this in your car.
(Or, if space is an issue, you could always sweet talk one of your new friends who will be driving her own car and will have plenty of room, to help you out. I’m pretty sure she’ll say yes.)
- Bottled water. I tend to be a bit thrifty. Yes, there are vending machines. But bringing bottled water from home leaves me more cash to spend on mochas. (Priorities!)
- Favorite soft drinks. If you are headed to Blue Ridge this year you should know that a recent call to a helpful registration clerk confirmed that Ridgecrest is still a Pepsi product facility. (My helpful informant is a Coke drinker and shared my frustration. She also earned my life-long gratitude for not making me feel like a goober for being concerned by this). Anyway, if you have a Diet Coke addiction—as many writers do—bring your own. You need to be at your best. This is not the time to try to go cold turkey.
- Gym clothes. You may not have time for a workout, but if you do, it might make you feel better, help you burn off stress, etc. Pack a pair of tennis shoes and go for a quick walk each day. You’ll be glad you did.
- Coffee/tea maker. Depending on your accommodations and preferences, this might make your stay more enjoyable. (It also might make you very popular with the people who need a cup of coffee to get their eyes open in the morning). Blue Ridge note: “Deluxe” accommodations do have coffee makers. “Standard” accommodations do not.
- Pillows. I’m the kind of girl who sleeps best with my own pillow. So mine will be making the trip, even if I have to smuggle it in under the cover of darkness to avoid being laughed at.
- Sewing Kit/Hem tape. Buttons do pop off. Hems do rip. (I’ll have mine in my bag in case of emergencies).
- iPod. Have you ever seen professional athletes before a big game? They almost always have earbuds in as they tune out the rest of the world and focus on what’s ahead. If you think you may have a panic attack before your critique, maybe some praise and worship or Scripture would soothe your soul. Or, if you worry that your roommate may not realize that she snores like an elephant seal, an iPod could save your relationship!
- A map. Find your classes before you need to go to them. If you can plan to arrive early, do so. Give yourself time to acclimate to the hotel/conference center so you aren’t panicked trying to find a restroom. And if you get lost, don’t worry about it. I got completely turned around on my first day at Blue Ridge. Wandered hallways for fifteen minutes while trying to act like I was just “exploring the facility” rather than what I really was, which was “hopelessly lost and hyperventilating.” If I’d quit telling people about it, no one would have ever known.
- New friends. You can make these before you arrive. Sign up for the Yahoo! Group. Participate on email lists. Comment on blog posts. These new friends are going to make your conference experience unforgettable. You can get through the week without them, but you’ll cherish the week if you find them and hang on tight!
Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. She blogs about faith, family, and her writing journey on her blog Out of the Boat. Lynn is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and the Word Weavers, Greenville. She lives in South Carolina where she hangs out with three lively children, one fabulous man, and a cast of imaginary characters who find their way onto the pages of her still unpublished novels. She drinks a lot of coffee.