The Misplacements

Imperfect perfection.

Miles run today: 4.5

Words written in my novel over the weekend: 0

Fun days I had at the SCWW writing conference: 3

I have so much to report back about writing. I don’t yet have 20,000 blog followers or 50,000 people ready to laugh uproariously at my nonexistent Tweets. I am, however, writing a novel that has a rocking query letter and a bunch of revisions left to do.

But I’m not going to write about that today.

Today, I am going to write about how people who have it all together can get distracted and misplace things all over South Carolina. And then, my son, who was here in North Carolina, managed to “misplace” both an Aeropostale sweatshirt and an entire bag of gym clothes within five days.

Also, I wanted to report that there is a lot of good in the world, and we experienced it this weekend.


1. When you write something, by yourself, for a very long time, and someone, someone like a real literary agent, says something encouraging about it, you are lucky that you remember how to walk.

I got to volunteer at the Critique Room at this weekend’s conference. For the uninitiated, the Critique Room is completely unlike the Champagne Room but involves some of the same elements: sweat, adrenalin, performance anxiety.

Everything that happens in the Critique Room happens behind closed doors.

And when the wrung-out writers emerged from the Critique Room with encouraging words to hash out over and over and over and over in their minds, they often did uncharacteristic things. Things like walking up the stairs in a zigzag line with noodle legs like one of my friends (no alcohol was involved).

Or another one of my friends, who kept misplacing her makeup, jacket, shoes, bag and other possessions at various locales around the hotel, condo or car. It was almost like she was saying to the universe, “I’m about to have a book published! I divest myself of all worldly possessions!”

2. When you have spent lots of time alone, talking to your own characters and world building in your spare time, you get a little giddy around other people.

Either it is a myth that most writers are introverts, or everyone went against type this weekend. After spending hours by myself in my desk chair like I’m supposed to be doing, people, it was like a wild festival of the senses to see and speak to so many other people who do the same thing.

I am not kidding, y’all. These people talk. They talk a lot. Not that I did, of course, but you know, other people had a lot to say.

And not in writing. Like, in real life.

3. When I meet other writers, it makes me proud to be a writer.

Writers, as a group, are funny. Even the ones who write about death and violence and murder and mayhem and vampires and sometimes fireflies made my stomach hurt with their wit and wisdom.

The keynote speaker was hilarious; the volunteers were funny; my dear writer friends, whose numbers keep increasing with each conference, made me double over with stories about mules and body parts (separately, of course).

4. Most people are mostly good.

I stand by my opinion.

Yesterday, my friend and I were driving home from the writing conference when nature called. We stopped at a rest area in North Carolina just off I-95. I took my purse into the rest area; my friend took nothing but her keys.

Fifteen minutes later, I got a call from another writing friend, who was driving home and was a few minutes behind us on the road.

She sounded as if she was notifying me of someone’s death.

A kind stranger had found my friend’s phone at the rest area, where it had apparently fallen out of her jeans pocket onto the floor.

We pulled over to the nearest exit and waited for the sweet family to pull up in their white horse SUV. They were so excited to drop off my friend’s cell phone. Excited and happy. To do something good.

In other Misplaced Things News, someone had put my son’s sweatshirt in the Lost & Found, and when he left his gym bag on the bus, the bus driver saved it for him and returned it, intact.

(He probably should have had to completely lose his things and learn his lesson. But sometimes, as a parent, you hope they will learn their lessons without it costing you a lot of money… a kind of free-to-the-parents kind of lesson.)

What about you? Where have you witnessed kindness and compassion lately? Does getting a positive critique make you act like you’re drunk? Do you like bunnies?


34 thoughts on “The Misplacements

  1. Melissa says:

    Oh, we are the world’s worst at putting things where they don’t belong…on the top of the car, in the back seat of someone else’s car or left at their house. Fortunately we have kind friends that know this about us, laugh at/with us and hold onto our belongings until the next time around…Now if I could just remember where I left my brain…is it at your house? The kitchen table maybe?

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    It’s so heartwarming to hear about good deeds. And a lost phone is no small thing. Glad your friend was able to get it back. And glad you were able to attend a writing conference. Sounds like a great time. But let me clear up a misconception about introverts. Although we don’t like small talk, if we’re comfortable around someone and you get us on a topic we’re interested in, just try shutting us up. We can talk with the best of them. Just ask my husband. 😉

  3. Subtlekate says:

    I can say yes, I love bunnies. Big bunny fan. I have experienced great moments of kindness, but not from bunnies, and have never had my writing read by a bunny, but if someone should not like it, I would be likely to call them a bunny.

    I really really want to go to a writing conference one day, but I fear I would feel like an impostor. But to be around other people who talk to the characters in their head would be nice.

    • annewoodman says:

      You would not be an impostor! I can’t speak for all writing conferences, but the one I’ve been going to is very welcoming to everyone, regardless of experience or level of publication. Very cool.

      It is nice to be around other people who have imaginary friends. ; )

  4. Martha Merrill Wills says:

    Positive critiques make me giddy, but also wary. It’s my own damned insecurity. I think, wait, why are they saying this? Is it true?
    I need to get over myself and learn to say, “Thank you.”

    Glad you had such a great trip!

    p.s. On a totally separate note, in the sentence above would you put quotation marks around my thoughts. I thought not, but I’ve been studying up on punctuation and I’m stumped! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Saying thank you is sometimes difficult… so true. I try to take the positive critiques with the same amount of acceptance as the negative ones. I try to work to get better all the time.

      P.S. Usually, at least in novels, characters speak to themselves in italics. But even though my dad told me how to do that in comments on blogs, I can’t remember for the life of me. Quotes would be completely appropriate when italics are not available. ; )

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    Positive feedback gives me that giddy feeling (until my self-doubt kicks in again, 10 minutes later). And I like bunnies when they aren’t digging holes all over the yard and eating the spring bulbs the minute before their flowers open. 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      I actually smile when the bunnies eat up things like sunflower seeds and spring bulbs. At least I gave them something to eat! ; )

      Positive and negative feedback… both difficult, in their own ways.

  6. This is such a great post, full of so many gems. I love all the positivity of those misplaced things being found and returned. I’m not sure if you read my post, ‘Lost Belongings’, but my boyfriend found a handbag on a train on our way to a weekend in Brighton, and used the phone in the bag to arrange to meet the owner on our way back through on the sunday evening. She gave him a bottle of wine and £20!!
    This conference sounds amazing. It’s so great to meet other writers – they are always interesting. I have my writing group tomorrow and we are going through a new story of mine. Let’s just say that I hope they turn my legs to jelly with compliments!

    • annewoodman says:

      Writing groups are wonderful. If they are honest and true, you grow so much as an artist.

      Glad to hear acts of kindness are happening. And now I feel bad that we didn’t pass along a bottle of wine to our phone saviors… ; )

      • Well, you were caught off guard. This lady had a full two days to mull over her appreciation. The other thing is, we didn’t expect it – no one does such a good deed as those people did returning the phone because they expect to get something (material) out of it.
        Happy writing 😉

  7. This is funny because only yesterday I was thinking about doing a blog post about acts of kindness I have witnessed! I shall therefore not share any here, but will save them for when I get around to doing that post 😉

    Love the sound of the writer’s conference, I really want to go to one.

    • annewoodman says:

      I think our minds are just on a similar plane… maybe we should do blog post plotting sessions together. ; )

      You should find a good writing conference. Some are very supportive and helpful; others might have a different focus. Let me know if you go!

  8. Bernie Brown says:

    Great post, Anne. Very funny. It is great to find so many examples of goodness still in the world. And I think I recognize myself in old noodle legs. 🙂

  9. Positive feedback, once you get over the initial shock that someone else likes what you’ve written, is one of life’s great joys. A friend recently caught me, after a positive critique, with a perpetual grin that went on for hours.

  10. 4amWriter says:

    Oh yeah, well I guess I did a good thing, then I wrangled my mother into a good deed when a stray cat found its way into my garage. I already have 2 cats, 1 dog, 2 children and a husband (so, 3 children), and I have no energy for another being to take care of. But it was bony and cold and full of purrs–that I couldn’t turn it away.

    However, the shelters are full and unless I return it to the wild I have a cat on my hands. My mother, bless her heart, offered to pay the vet bills to make sure it is healthy and safe enough to bring into my house and introduce to my other pets. Basically I have to hang onto this cat until I can find it a home. Or become too attached to it and never let it go.

    Anyway, it does feel good to do something for someone or something else. It makes you feel like you are earning your title as Human Being.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Love this title, and the contents, well, they speak to me.

  12. Positive feedback gets me so drunk, I start singing “Truly Madly Deeply” and continue to sing until I get grenaded with cushions and pillows from every one who does’t appreciate the frog like quality of my voice. I am glad you had a good trip 🙂

  13. Amy Mak says:

    Great conference report – can’t wait to hear more! Someone wrote me a letter on a real card using real ink yesterday and it meant so much to me. It’s the little things! Glad you had a great time and btw, I tagged you today on my blog – you’re the next big thing! p.s. did not run today. you put me to shame.

    • annewoodman says:

      Thanks, Amy!

      Don’t worry–I didn’t run Thurs. through Sun. while I was at the conference… there wasn’t time! Ate lots of bad food, was generally evil to my body. Had to get back on the horse sometime. ; )

      I like the conversation you have on the side of your blog about going back to work… my son has a similar attitude. He asks me every day if I’ve gotten a job yet… because he’ll get a cell phone when I do. ; )

  14. I am fond of both critiques and bunnies, yes. I also like bacon.

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