On October 21, 2013, I found myself in Florida. Yes, I was physically there but something magical happened. So magical that “found myself” doesn’t speak to that flesh-and-bone-self, but to that inner being that was buried under blankets of schooling and life events that tend to wear away who, what, where.
The evening outside was warm, even for Florida. It was over 80 degrees and my friend, Jeff Swesky, was beginning to sweat under his collar. He motioned to go inside where we mingled with other writers at the Florida Writers Association’s annual conference (the greatest writing conference on earth). I had been to a conference before and for the writer, there’s not a more exciting time. Workshops on blogging and word processing, poetry with special guest speakers and vendors marketing their fare. All present with a single purpose: to discuss and sell the written word. The conference hosts the Royal Palm Literary Awards which were to be held that night. Everyone was dressed out and fully prepared (thank you Rik Feeney for the Tastykake Apple Pie!).
Both Jeff and I knew we were nominated for an award. Months earlier we had finalized our play: Thornetta, The Musical and submitted it for consideration. We never expected to be finalists! After our incredible meal (thank you Rik Feeney for the Filet Mignon!) the ceremony began. Jeff and I looked at each other, the way people do when they’re put in a situation that is out of the ordinary (like being strapped into a roller coaster, knowing the ride is going to be thrilling). When our category was announced, I heard the words “first place” and “Thornetta”, that was it. My brain was awash in a secret scream. What an honor! We accepted the award with much gratitude and thanks.
As the ceremony came to a close, the last award was announced. It was the Dahris Clair Award. The award name sake was a member of the FWA who was an avid writer and lover of stage plays. As the winner was announced, I looked to my lovely friend, Jeff, and couldn’t believe our play, Thornetta, The Musical received the distinguished award! I didn’t walk out of the ballroom, I floated. Thank you my beautiful friend, Jeff, for being my writing muse, to my father, Paul, for his guidance and to my brother, Tim, for the soundtrack in my head. Finally, my loving family for all of their support.
What was once forgotten, is now remembered. I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.