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Travel Plans … Or Not
Stuff 'N Nonsense 3-30-22
Kim Van Meter

Ohhhh, can you smell the pollen? Yes, the lovely almond blossoms are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the deluge of rain and snow we needed to lift us out of this crippling drought failed to deliver but spring is definitely here.

Amid the sneezing, sniffling, and the leaky faucets our eyeballs have become, the news that many of the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, has some people looking to drag their dusty luggage from the garage and start planning their next adventure.

Myself included.

In the writing community, the declining virus numbers has many conference organizers tentatively trying to return to some semblance of normal, which means offering in-person events instead of virtual only.

I’ll admit, I was lukewarm about virtual conferences but having attended two while the pandemic raged, I discovered the benefits of being able to attend a workshop in your pajamas, snuggled in your bed with the cat or dog as your conference buddy.

But even as I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of virtual conference attendance, in-person workshops contain a certain energetic magic that can’t be replicated with pixels on a screen.

I was over the moon at the prospect of attending RAM (Romance Author Mastermind) in person this year but I was quickly reminded that my daughter will be in her senior year (the conference is held in November) and in the middle of football season so I couldn’t possibly jet off to Houston and miss a moment of her senior year.

So, virtual it is for RAM, however, I’m seriously eyeing some smaller conferences that I could attend closer to home that wouldn’t interfere with my “mom” duties and I’m giddy at the idea of spending time with my peers.

The thing is, even though writing is a solitary activity and most writers tend to be introverts (and thus, love the solitude), I’m an extrovert and my creative engine needs people to function. I love conference time and the prospect of packing my bags to mingle with my peeps has me feeling like a kid let loose in a candy store — I want all the things.

Writer retreats, conferences, coffee shop mingling, workshops, like I said, I want it all.

But even as I zig-zag from the potential of one tantalizing opportunity to another, the ugly head of reality is ever-present.


Even as I want to do everything, I know part of that drive is my ADHD at play, salivating at the idea of all that dopamine flooding my brain at each new experience. I also know that if I try to do all the things, I will crash and burn in overload, leaving my brain a sizzling charcoaled mess.

And when I get overloaded I shut down completely, my depression takes control, and I become self-destructive.

Since I’m all about changing negative patterns, this is where I can put what I’ve learned into play.

Sandwiched between writing jobs (Harlequin, newspaper, Indie, etc.) I know I can probably only fit in two conference-level events, and maybe one writing retreat before the end of the year. Even though I have to fight my urge to be recklessly optimistic about my available time, I’m excited about finding the right fit for my schedule because even if I’m only getting a handful of professional development time, it’s the quality not the quantity that matters.

And I’m good with that.

P.S. If you need a new or renewed passport, make an appointment at the designated office or be prepared to camp out for six-plus hours.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.