Though my annual trek to Eureka Springs is always filled with learning and laughter, I wondered if I should skip this year’s Ozark Writers Conference. We are leaving for Thailand tomorrow and items on my Things-To-Do-Before-I-Leave list keep popping up like dandelions in springtime.
But the keynote speaker was David Morrell, creator of Rambo, as well as dozens of other bestsellers, and I am always drawn to successful authors who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with fledgling writers. Still, after attending countless conferences and listening to many authors—and with my Things-To-Do-Before-I-Leave list looking like a field of yellow weeds—I wondered if I’d learn anything new.
Fortunately, I decided to attend and keep an open mind. You see, Mr. Morrell and Rambo gave me an “aha moment.”
He told us about his history–about his abusive stepfather and his resulting troubled youth. He described his fascination with the 1960’s television series, Route 66 and how it led to his interest in writing, which ultimately inspired him to contact co-creator and screenwriter for the series, Stirling Sillliphant. Mr. Silliphant replied, establishing a path that would lead David Morrell to become the writer and man he is today.
So what was my “aha moment?” The theme of Mr. Morrell’s discussion was to pay attention to our daydreams. He told us that in those daydreams, we would see the theme that would open up our writing. Mr. Morrell talked about his fear, even despising, of his stepfather, and described some of his daydreams and fantasies that reflected those emotions. As he spoke, I stared out the window and began to daydream about my daydreams, wondering what about their central theme.
Then, it hit me. The “aha moment.”
Of course, because of its very nature, I hesitate to say, worried that one will think it silly or dumb, or simply too plain. But it’s the truth, and that is a part of what hit me. My daydreams, as well as almost everything I write, has the theme of wanting to be understood, and once understood, accepted. We all need to break out of the cocoon–what others expect us to be–to free ourselves to become who we truly are.
I wrote a haiku as the opening to my short story, “The Butterfly’s Song,” which won 2nd Place for the Showcase Award at this year’s conference.
Until she grew wings
“The Butterfly’s Song” is a short story taken from my novel, Broken Dolls, in which each of my three characters, Sachi, Nobu and Terrence, deal with the back and forth struggle of being understood and accepted. Two will find success in that truth, and one will not.
Sometimes, the shell of my cocoon is so thick and stringy, it chokes my writing. But upon hearing the courage in David Morrell’s presentation, I realized if I withhold my truth, whether in my life or my writing, then any misundertanding of who I am is only my fault.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of thanking David Morrell. Funny, before this weekend, I would never have dreamed I’d have any reason to thank Rambo. But I do.
I would love to hear from any other conference attendees who may have had an “aha moment.” Or, if you didn’t attend the conference, what is the single thread that weaves through your daydreams?