Wounded at the Willamette Writer’s Conference: Meeting Larry Brooks
|Willamette Writers Conf
Okay, so last weekend while you were all watching the LondonOlympics, my brother Clark and I left Seattle for Portland to attend the Willamette Writer’s Conference. I told Clark there were a couple of classes I was really excited about and that one of them was Larry Brook’s Six Core Competencies class – I’m a huge fan of Larry’s blog at www.storyfix.com and hoped to meet him at the conference. I told Clark that was a conference goal. I wrote about having conference goals last week, this was one of mine.
Well, the power of intention certainly manifested in an unexpected way.
After a long day on Saturday, during which I worked with Bill Johnson at the info desk of the conference and where for a brief moment I did have a chance to introduce myself to Larry Brooks, Clark and I left the hotel for some fresh air and to have dinner elsewhere.
I was sorry that in our short meeting I didn’t have time to tell Larry how much I liked his blog and how much I’d learned from it over the last year of reading it. I went to buy his book, Story Engineering:Mastering The Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing from the conference book table, but it was sold out, so no autographed copy, either. Oh well. I knew I’d enjoy the Sunday class which was certain to be overflowing and standing room only as his classes usually are. I tried to attend one a couple years ago and got to the room too late – they turned me away. ARG! So, I planned on showing up this time, early and getting a front row seat.
However, fate had another plan.
As Clark and I were finishing our dinner at a local (Portland airport area) diner which I will not name for reasons that will become clear later, we spotted Larry Brooks walking, no, limping by the restaurant. He looked like he was in pain when he kindly nodded at us in recognition as he passed. I said to Clark “He doesn’t look okay, does he?”
Clark said, “Maybe tired. It’s a long weekend.” We waved.
So, when we got in the car to drive back to the hotel we saw Larry sitting on a bench outside the strip mall. I said to Clark, “Something’s not right. He doesn’t look okay.” And if you’ve ever seen Larry Brooks he’s a large (maybe 6’4+) macho guy who probably wouldn’t blink if you hit him in the eye. So when a guy like that looks like he’s in pain, he’s in pain.
So, I pulled over to the curb in front of Larry, reminded him that we’d met earlier and asked if we could help or give him a ride.
He happily accepted a ride back to the hotel. When he got in the car he showed us his foot; purple, green, bloody, and swollen. He’d taken a fall and wasn’t sure if it was broken or what. Mangled, definitely, but not sure how bad. We offered to take him to the hospital, but, of course, being that big macho guy – just like my husband who almost died of a poisonous spider bite on his temple, once and who now has a scar that looks like a bullet wound to his head, and who now tells people “that’s where my wife shot me” – Larry refused to go.
Long story short – there was Larry Brooks in my car. Bloody and bruised, yes, but in my car (how stalker-ish does this sound?). So, anyway, I got a chance to chat with him.
Some writers aren’t who you think they might be when you meet them. I’ve been disappointed a lot. I won’t mention the disappointments but I will say that when I met Thomas Moore, author of Care of The Soul, he was exactly the man I hoped he was. What a treasure! And Larry Brooks, not at all like Thomas Moore, is exactly who you might think he is; nice guy, and an expert teacher who wants to help you to succeed.
Larry is a writer who really walks his talk. Obviously sometimes he stumbles (sorry, couldn’t help myself) but he really is that Six Core Competencies guy. And by the following morning after he finally went to the hospital and got a foot boot and some x-rays (which of course, we suggested he do the night before) he got up in front of a hundred or so students, in pain and delivered a high energy, fabulous class (pacing back and forth, I might add, without his boot L). Men!
Of course I didn’t get to stay for the entire fabulous class because of that restaurant I mentioned without naming, before.
As I sat in the front row like a sponge listening to Larry talk about the writing, editing and the development of a novel, my stomach and head began to flip flop. NO! I thought. What was going on! I reluctantly left the class half way through and ended up in my room with food poisoning. I rested, cold cloth on my head, dislodged the food from my stomachL, and then was scheduled be my brother’s assist in his afternoon class. I made it halfway through Clark’s class when suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, I felt very ill – green around the gills, clammy, dizzy, you know the drill. I made it back to our room. Definitely food poisoning and definitely the end of the conference for me.
I left the hotel 24 miserable hours later, rolled out in a wheel chair by my brother. Missed all the Sunday classes and suffered the longest, most miserable drive (Clark drove) home to Seattle of my life. But, hey, I got to meet Larry Brooks.