As many members of the Seton Hill Writer Popular Fiction program and In Your Write Mind Workshop attendees may already know, we lost one of our own very recently. Ron Shannon was a kind and vibrant colleague and friend. In February of this year, Ron wrote a guest post for this blog, which is republished below in his memory.
Ron, you were one of the best of us. Though you are gone, you will always live on as part of our family.
Donations to the Seton Hill Scholarship fund can be made in memory of Ron at alumni.setonhill.edu/give
Links to purchase Ron’s books.
Anticipating the 2015 In Your Write Mind Conference
Time is drawing near. It’s time for writers of different genres to congregate at an amazing Catholic University, a dreamscape structure, situated on a hill in Greensburg Pennsylvania. This sort of thing doesn’t happen. Conferences are genre specific. Horror people get together to discuss how to scare their readers to death. Romance writers are drawn to a huge convention and I wonder if they ponder the merits of erotic and sweet. I’m sure when science fiction writers assemble they transform their surroundings to a realm of marvel and inventiveness. Fantasy stretches reality to undiscovered dimensions hidden in the cosmos. Is there a place for the genre that chose me? Adventure sprinkled with romantic elements.
What is applicable to In Your Write Mind is not genre. It doesn’t matter if you are published and about to hit the big time, or if you are struggling to get noticed. It’s not important what your sales are; well at least for this conference. What is important is that you write, you are a writer and you identify with that tribe. You can come here and be at home, accepted, and you won’t be demoralized because your writer’s heart is filled with insecurities.
I normally arrive on campus early the first day. Others don’t usually show up until around noon. I like to get there and wander the halls, find a place to sit with what I am currently reading, and be alone to absorb the ambiance of the school. Old and haunted, it is a living, breathing organism that tells me I’m where I belong. I daydream, like any writer, and think about what it would be like if I could spend more time on campus, maybe teach. I allow my imagination to spin off in all directions. It’s story time and I think about taking notes. I should take notes, but I don’t worry about such things. I don’t want to lose the moment. I go back to reading, but I find I’m too excited to concentrate. Stories and characters float in my head. Like turbulent clouds they change shape, radiate youthful ideas, and create fresh memories. I should be cautious, guard my visions, like a schoolboy in class, but it’s not going to happen. I take out my notebook and scribble. I have a character, a story, perhaps an answer to a peculiar dilemma. It doesn’t matter. I smile to myself and take another walk. People will show up soon. If the weather is nice I will go out and sit on one of the benches or swings. More notes, more reading.
People are showing up now and they stop to talk. We catch up. Chat about things important to writers. What are you writing? Have you published? I saw your note on Facebook. Congratulations on your short story, your award, finishing that first draft. Yes, my thesis is published. I am happy, but I wish sales were better. Don’t be troubled. We will talk about that blog, that virtual tour, that review you loved.
This is why I came here, the friendships, the discussions outside of the classroom, the time with people who have my dreams, aspirations, and interests. I escape my day job, uninteresting careers, and office politics. The normality of life is good fodder, but not what I seek. I am part of this group. I am not the introverted outsider. I am not the pitiful daydreamer. I am another writer and we are working to help each other to succeed. I am home.
This is what this conference is all about. If you are not alum of the Writing Popular Fiction program it’s okay. You are welcomed here. You are part of the tribe. Yes, you are introverted and find it difficult to mingle. That’s okay because you’ll find most of us are the same. We suffer from the same maladies, but in this world the malady is essential. It provides the capacity to sit in isolation for hours and live through our characters. It’s what makes us whole and our lives worth living. We accept fellow travelers. You will fit in here. Just say hello, someone will ask what you write, ask about your current project. How did you hear about In Your Write Mind? We’re glad you’re here.
I am looking forward to Seton Hill. I know it will end before it begins. I know I will not recover for weeks. I will dream about the campus. I will reach out for inspiration. I will take new experiences and in some way I will grow from them. My writing will improve and I will find the label of writer an honor and a privilege.