I'm back! Wish I could say the same for my luggage. I waved goodbye to it at the check-in Delta terminal in Tucson and haven't seen it since. My flight arrived in GSO last night at midnight and I put in a lost luggage claim. It's now 10 AM and Delta's online baggage status site informs me "We have not yet been able to locate this piece of luggage." I'm holding off on panicking just yet. I don't mind the luggage being on the other side of the country so long as someone knows where it it and it's heading back my way. The thought that it's just lost in Delta land terrifies me though. This bag weighed in at 48 pounds and was almost all shoes and clothes, so you can imagine how full of stuff it is. I'm giving them until noon before I place the "irate customer" phone call.
Now, Tucson and NSA (National Speakers Association) University. First I have to say this is the friendliest group of people I've ever met. Speakers are not shy, and I think I met and held conversations with at least 200 of the 300 people who were there. Quite a change from my typical writers' conference where we nod a shy smile at one another and turn back to our notebooks.
The University was set up to offer participants a choice of 4 tracts: Branding, Information Marketing, Performance, and Writing. Each student chose a major and minor focus. The writing tract I taught on had 34 people in our major and 61 people in our minor. The Dean of our tract was Leslie Charles, and faculty were myself and Chris Roerden, an editor from GSO with 40 years book editing/ghostwriting experience. In the picture here, it's me, Leslie, and Chris.
While I'm pleased with my portion (writing for magazines) of the program, I can't say we were an unqualified success. I wish we had been able to offer participants more specific exercises than we had planned. Still, a number of people approached me to thank me for the content and our class was kind enough to give us a standing ovation the final day. (And kind enough to keep applauding while I took a picture of them!) =)
The most rewarding part of the conference for me was the encouragement I received from NSA members to become a professional speaker. Several members gave me their cards with the encouragement to contact them if I decide to pursue a path in public speaking. I'm going to give it serious consideration. Although I am DRAINED after being "on" for 4 straight days, I can't deny there is a buzz that comes from connecting with people in a presentation, especially when I see their eyes light up or a lightbulb go off when they "get" one of the concepts I'm presenting. Part of me thinks, "Why would I want to put myself through the hassle and nerves of preparing and presenting in public. Why not just live the quiet life with my writing and be happy." But there is another part of me--a part I suspect is stronger than the "live a quiet life" part--that is whispering, "You could do this..."
So we'll see. Lots of food for thought, anyway.
Tucson. Stunning. Just wish I'd had time to explore. We pretty much went from sunup to past sundown in the conference, so I never even managed to walk a trail. Disappointing, as our resort was built sort of into a hill, with huge, picturesque ridges rising in every direction. The landscape was very brown and barren to my eyes so used now to the lush green of the South, but it had a desolate beauty all its own. Here are some pictures I took at sunrise my last day there but as always, the photos don't do the landscape justice.
That's all for now. I have a TON of work to do--not the least of which includes a conversation with a Delta baggage claim attendant.
p.s. Almost forgot! The hotel rooms at Loews Ventana Resort were to die for. I spent 2 happy evenings swimming in the pool-size tub in my room: