When Worlds Meet

Conferences stimulate. And sometimes they surprise.

For my day job, I attended the annual PAEOP “Reach for the Stars” Conference in State College, PA.  As I sat down in a workshop given by Pamela Posey, President of the National Association of Educational Office Professionals, I expected simply to gather pointers that would help me in my job.  Pamela’s accent, an intriguing blend of southern Illinois and Mississippi, guided us through goal setting.  Unexpectedly, I heard her quote a familiar name.   “Margie Lawson,” she said.   Surreal.

As an educational secretary I probably would not know of Margie Lawson.  But writers of romance know her and stand in awe.  Her Deep Edits system has breathed life into countless novels.   A few years ago I attended an all-day workshop Margie presented at an event sponsored by the New Jersey Romance Writers. It was grueling.  Six hours of Deep Edits and other wisdom left me feeling whipped and wrung dry.  I drove home knowing I’d run a marathon.  But my writing improved.  God bless Margie, and other such giving writers.

I try not to mix my “gotta save for retirement” job with my career as a writer.  I lead a double life in separate worlds.   When I leave work at 4:30 or 5:00 pm each day, I eagerly shed my office skin and don my writer’s identity.  My alter ego.  Call it a need.

But yesterday, when I heard Margie Lawson’s name, my two worlds met and momentarily merged.  The experience was…interesting.

Near the end of the conference, I sat in on a roundtable discussion with other office professionals who work in offices similar to mine.  For the opening exercise we wrote on slips of paper — “some secret that few people know about me.”   The folded slips were gathered.  We then each chose someone else’s secret and tried to guess who at the table had written it.  I wrote on my slip “I write romance novels.”  It felt good.