I am spending this gorgeous spring weekend at The 25th Annual Pennwriters Conference. My sister and I travel together and share a room at a beautiful hotel where we attend workshops, meet other writers and, in our down time, process new information and critique each other's works in progress. The synergy of all of these unrelated pieces makes this a conference I always look forward to.
I sometimes wonder if I would enjoy this as much at a different time of year, or at a different hotel. The information on backstory, outlining, social media and paths to publication would - theoretically, at least - be identical. The keynote speakers might prepare and deliver the same speeches.
But the room they deliver them in here is a beautiful space with fountains and greenery. The focal point of the lobby is a rustic stone hearth, situated in front of one of the hotel's two restaurants. The hotel is within minutes of a Barnes and Noble and various restaurants and shopping, but is set apart just enough to feel removed from all of the amenities touted in print ads and television commercials.
And when it comes to creative pursuits, all of these things are important. Inspiration can be found within the walls of these rooms and in the hubbub outside of them. When the inside spaces grow too confining, it is easy enough to seek entertainment elsewhere, whether to it's to eat a good meal, people watch, shop or take in the sights.
I always leave this conference feeling ready to try new things and anxious to put newly acquired skills to the test. The combination of a familiar locale and a break from true day-to-day familiarity is a fruitful one, promising to spark new ideas and pursuits well beyond these three days, and leaving me ready to register when the conference rolls around again.