California is a long state. Even if one is only traveling in the northern section, one may sit in the car an impressive amount of time and still never reach Oregon. But as much as I would love to crank about spending hours on the road to get from Santa Cruz to Mendocino I can't. Okay, I could. But I won't. Because it was worth it to attend the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference in Fort Bragg. And my husband and I were far from being the folks whom had traveled the greatest distance. By a long shot. Writers from all over the country came to spend three days on the rugged coastline discussing their work, their hopes of completing projects, their desire to improve their writing skills and many wanted to understand the often confusing nature of publishing.
As the editor of a literary journal, Memoir, and the author of two memoirs, I had been invited to speak. Let me say, holding a conference in a place known for their seafood and for great wine certainly adds to the romance of the event. And Michael and I were looking for a bit of romance. I had been in New York City for the past month and hadn't seen him in all that time.
In making my lodging reservations I decided to give a couple of B&Bs a try. The idea of staying in a cozy Victorian by the sea just sounded so swashbuckling. Pulling up in front of our first night's home away from home I had my first small inkling of doubt. The house looked more like the vacation home of the Addams Family. A bit more Gothic than I had imagined. Inside we were greeted by a petite gentleman wearing plaid golf shorts who led us up some dark and creaky stairs to our room which was just off the "reading/game" area. Two other couples were gathered there browsing through the books. Moby Dick, War and Peace, etc. I wondered just how long people stay in your average B&B if these were the reading options. Our room, which had been advertised as having a private bath, was just big enough to hold the frilly covered bed. The bath, though private, was not attached to our room. If one needed to use it one would have to pass throughout the game and reading room, chat with the gamers and readers, and then repeat the procedure on the return trip to bed. With all the interuptions who could anyone possible finish reading about the great white whale?
On the wall next to our bed, framed so as to be noticed, was a note about the history of said bed. Four different babies had been born in it! This only lead me to wonder how many people had died in it. There would be no reason to say "Shiver me timbers" while tucked in here.
In the morning, both of us were still alive and neither one of us had popped out a newborn so I considered our evening a success. But I didn't want to push my luck so it was time to move on.
Our new B&B was very lovely and there were no people to chat up on the way to the bathroom which was actually part of our suite and had a lovely deep tub for soaking. This place was much more swashbuckley! And rather than a birth notice by the bed there were chocolates.
For three days we ate, we enjoyed the views, we met people who want to write, who do write, who love to read and who are passionate about books. They came from all over the country and I was thrilled to be reminded that there is a strong desire to share stories with one another. To bond over experiences. To spend time listening and learning.
I can only hope that today they are each sitting at their desks and documenting their weekend. Getting it down on paper before the experience is lost. So they may go back and read what they have written on a cold rainy evening and relive the adventure they had by the sea.