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Today I’m getting ready to go off to Story Masters, a workshop billed as “an unprecedented event for writers” (it’s the first time they are trying it out) “featuring THREE masters of writing instruction: James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler, and Donald Maass! (Exclamation point, theirs).

I first heard of the event when it was announced back in February (February?? Where has the year gone?) I knew I just had to go. I watched the website every week until they finally posted the registration information. I knew I just had to be there.

And now? Now that I’m packing my bag and making last minute arrangements, I find myself freaking out. What the hell? I love all these guys, I have all of their books: “The Fire In Fiction,” “The Writers Journey,” “The Art of War For Writers.” I’ve met Chris (yeah, I call him Chris) Vogler at the Maui Writers Conference. I did agent speed-dating with Donald Maass and I’ve already been rejected by one of the agents at his agency. And James Scott Bell was kind enough to answer a tweet that I sent him.

Why am I so freaking nervous? Well, the other part of the deal is that I submitted the first 15 pages of my novel and a synopsis and have my work critiqued by a “real” industry person. Have I told you how much I hate, hate, hate writing synopses? It’s worse than having your toenails removed. But thanks to Kristen Lamb, social media and writer advisor extraordinaire, she turned me on to Chuck Wendig’s post “25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses, Treatments” After years of hating to write the darn things,  I was able to hammer out a decent description of my mystery novel, “Deadly Hula Hands.” Which is good in that I wrote it, but it’s bad in that I’m opening myself up for more criticism and will end up re-writing the book…. Again. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the workshops will be great; these are wonderful teachers with lots of valuable information. I’m guessing there will be in-class exercises where I will get the chance to test out all this new knowledge. But I know, in the back of my mind, the dark evil one will also rear its ugly head. His name is Doubt. The other day I wrote about trust. Trust is the slayer of Doubt. But Doubt doesn’t give up with out a fight.

I’ve had do deal with this at every writing conference I’ve ever attended. You meet the presenters, you listen and learn, but somewhere, usually toward the end of the third day, Doubt greets you with his toothless cheesy grin and says, “hey baby. Who the hell do you think you are, trying be all writerly and shit?”

I tell him to piss off. I am a writer, you cretin. See, I came up with that word, all on my own — cretin. But Doubt has been sneaky these days, he’s adding, “but baby, you’re going to leave your poor, sick, failing mother in the hands of caregivers for a whole week? What kind of feckless, self-centered daughter are you?”

That’s the barb that stings the most. Yes, I will be leaving my mother to be cared for by others. Yes, as much as I need a break from pushing her wheelchair, timing her medication schedule, taking her for walks and cooking her meals — I have this awful crappy feeling that I am abandoning her.

I don’t have children of my own, by choice. I always valued my own freedom. But these last couple years, as my mother’s health has declined, our roles have reversed and I am the “mom” caregiver and she is the “child” care receiver. It’s a really awful place, because my mother is/was a great mom. She had/has a wonderful sense of humor is vivacious and creative. She gave me a fun, laugh-filled, childhood.

I’m doing the best I can to make these last years as fun-filled as I can. But there are times when I need to get out, and be on my own and remember what it is like to be on my own. In order to be a good caregiver, you have to do it because it makes you feel good and that you are filled with more than enough love to give. But there are times when the well runs dry and you have to re-fill it. Any one else out there knows what this feels like? Mothers? Daughters? Caregivers? I’d love to hear from you. And don’t worry; mom is in good hands while I’m gone.

In the next few days I will be blogging about the highlights of Story Masters. Stay tuned. Be well, be happy, thanks for stopping by.

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