Strange…But Is It A Sign?

Two weeks ago, I answered a call on my cell phone from an unknown local number.   The caller asked for me by name and asked me if I went to a writing seminar last year. (I did.)  She told me her name (which I did not remember) and asked me a few questions to make sure I was the person she intended to call.  I hesitated, but confirmed that I did write a novel and have two young children.

She asked if I was still writing, and I told her mostly short stories.  I didn’t mention the blog.  Perhaps I should have, because if I added the word counts of all my blog posts, I’ve got a couple novels here.  I know, a string of incoherent posts does not a novel make, but I’m still writing words.  In my delusional mind, it counts as writing.

I asked about her projects – she is writing mostly short stories and a trilogy of novellas.  She told me she was retired and with that clue, I thought I may have a vague picture of her in my mind.  The problem is, I’m not good with names or faces.

She proceeded to tell me about a small one-day writer’s conference being held next month.  I was skeptical, but I researched the conference and it looks legitimate.  Here are the topics I found interesting: Elements of Plot; How to Get Your Book Published;  How to Develop Believable Characters; 3 Deadly Sins that Will Keep You from Getting Published;  What New Writers Need to Be Aware of In Publishing; and Query Letter Writing Boot Camp.  There are not enough hours in the day to attend all of these, so I need to nix two of them.

I hadn’t planned to go to a conference until at least 2013 because of the cost involved (and the fact I haven’t started novel #2.)  This one-day conference is something I can work into a budget.  There are no hotel costs, I can bring my own snacks, and I don’t need to take time off work to go since it’s on a Saturday.  Oh, and hubby said I should go – he could take care of the kids’ activities that day.  His support of a passion he doesn’t understand is encouraging.

The strangeness of the path that led to this encounter stayed on my mind.  A year ago, I attended a writing workshop offered by the city.  The eight of us wrote our names and contact info on a sheet of paper and we each left with a Xerox copy.  I’ve had no contact with any of the other attendees until this one call from a woman who said she’d intended to call me all along to see how it was going.

Is it just strange, or is it a sign that this workshop could be useful to me?  Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I do believe that people come into our lives to guide us in one way or another, even if we don’t recognize it until after the fact.  It’s possible that the purpose of our contact isn’t related to writing at all.

I will see where this experience takes me, because I registered for the conference last night.

Have you had similar strange encounters?  Have you looked back and recognized someone’s purpose for being in your life?  If you’ve got a story, I hope you share 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Strange…But Is It A Sign?

  1. Carl D'Agostino September 8, 2011 / 6:48 AM

    Everything and everyone in our lives has a purpose. Unfortunately some may not be very likable but it all evolves us into the product that we are, right? Re institutes and seminars and expense I am sure that any town has people dying to be part of a book reading club and info from readers may be more valuable than info from writers. Perhaps you could start a bimonthly club in your town. You probably can attend writing classes at local community college for non credit for a tiny fee. Does your local library sponsor such things? That would be a fertile ground to start your own group. Teacher employee workshops are held in the public schools and does not seem your attendance would be objectionable and networks may result from that.

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 8:50 PM

      Thanks for sharing so many helpful suggestions, Carl.

      I actually did take a writing class last Fall. I don’t know that I would go that route again. I have a few friends that read most of my stories and give me a reader’s perspective, which helps a bunch.

      You’ve given some options that I can look into when I feel like I can commit the time to them. For now, priority #1 is to enjoy my kids’ childhood, and then, practice writing when it fits in 🙂

  2. Hilary Clark September 8, 2011 / 6:53 AM

    I love signs. In the last several years, I’ve experienced several epiphanies / signs that have changed my life for the better (once I acknowledged that they truly were signs and embraced the message…). I suspect this workshop will propel you towards something you need. I’m looking forward to hear how it goes.

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 8:53 PM

      I’ll certainly do a blog post or two about the experience. This smaller workshop might be less intimidating than the two or three day ones. This is a good thing since I’m not an outgoing person and kinda get a sick feeling when I’m in new social situations.

      Good to see you back in the blogging world, Hilary!

  3. Debbie September 8, 2011 / 8:33 AM

    I firmly believe people come into our lives for a reason or for a season, as the saying goes. We might not know at the time why our paths are crossing, but maybe it will become clear later. At any rate, I’d definitely go — sounds like a wonderful day conference. Sometimes things just fall into place, when we’re open to that! I’ve actually had things go the other way, too — when nothing seems to go right — and those are equally enlightening!

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 8:56 PM

      Ah, I have had those days where everything is a disaster. It’s so ridiculous I am caught between crying and laughing 🙂

      I almost didn’t sign up because my older son had his final cross country meet that day. I found out today, that the date is being changed. Now I can go without feeling bad that I missed it!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Debbie!

  4. Bill Greeves September 8, 2011 / 10:18 AM

    Quite a weird experience Janna! I am generally very skeptical about people who just want to talk or get to know you in general. I usually feel that there is an ulterior motive – they want to sell me something or take something from me or give me something I don’t want or need (whether it is a product, a problem, etc.) That being said, I have had some things happen to that seemed pretty crappy at the time and then they ended up leading to very good things down the road. So I don’t know…I say go for it with some cautious optimism and keep us posted!

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 9:08 PM

      I know what you mean, Bill. In the back of my mind, I think, “Okay, what’s in it for you?”

      From what she said, I got the impression she was looking to keep in touch with other writers (network) and possibly get into a critiquing group. It seems legit. I trust that she will pay me back for the ticket when we meet at the workshop.

      I’m only messing with you…she did not ask me to buy her ticket! Even if she did, I wouldn’t have done it 🙂

      Here’s to cautious optimism…

  5. nrhatch September 8, 2011 / 2:20 PM

    I believe that our interconnected Spirit (“the Spiritual Internet”) directs our attention where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

    So, here’s a possible scenario:

    * This woman heard about the conference.
    * Spirit knew that it MIGHT appeal to you and inspire your writing.
    * Spirit suggested (through the still silent voice) that this woman call YOU.
    * She listened and called to let you know about the conference

    Spirit is always lighting the way for us to explore, dream, and discover our passion and purpose. Synchronicity like this happens to me all the time ~ when someone or something directs my attention to something I need/want to hear, see, read, do, etc.

    Enjoy the conference!

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 9:13 PM

      I like the scenario, Nancy.

      I had wondered why she remembered me. When I called her back to thank her for the info, she mentioned that I was the only one in the class that had actually written something. Everyone else wanted to write. I guess that’s all it took

      I think I will enjoy it, as long as I don’t let my nerves/anxiety/shyness get to me. I’m sure I’ll have a blog post or two from the experience!

    • nrhatch September 9, 2011 / 6:57 AM

      OK . . . to defeat those nerves/anxiety/shyness:

      1. Write a short story staring Carrie the confident conference attendee
      2. Give Carrie all the qualities that you want to portray at the workshop
      3. Memorize her character features and assume the role

      Attend the conference playing the role of Carrie . . .

      In short, put yourself in the role of a detached observer watching Janna interact with others ~ we are NOT our egos. When we learn to detach ourselves from the “image of who we think we are,” we no longer feel like we are walking around with a bull’s eye on our forehead.

      Instead of being horrified by each “faux pas,” we nod and say, “That’s interesting. I wonder why Janna said THAT?” 😉

      • jannatwrites September 10, 2011 / 12:05 AM

        Do you think I have time to legally change my name?

        Only kidding, of course. (Or am I ;))

        I think you’re onto something with the visualization. I often see myself doing or saying something stupid, and I rarely disappoint. I would like to turn the tables this time. I don’t want people to remember me because I was a blithering idiot!

  6. SuziCate September 8, 2011 / 4:17 PM

    Sounds like an invitation not to resist! I went to a writer’s conference last year and opted not to go this year because I was only interested in one workshop and I do not have a completed book to pitch…nor did I get a sign like yours to make me change my mind. Have a fabulous time, something big will come from this, whether a future publication, a connection, who knows…but your presence is requested!

    • jannatwrites September 8, 2011 / 9:18 PM

      I don’t have a completed book I’m pitching either, which is why I couldn’t justify the expense of an out-of-town three day event.

      Since I’m not pitching anything to anyone, I seriously doubt publication will come of it, but I am curious to discover what I will gain from the experience. It could be any combination of things…

      Thanks for your comment, SuziCate!

  7. Widdershins September 8, 2011 / 11:10 PM

    Its funny how there are open windows all around us, all the time, and so often we just don’t see ’em. Good on you for checking this one out!

    • jannatwrites September 10, 2011 / 12:01 AM

      You’re right, Widdershins. Sometimes we just need a tap on the shoulder, I guess 🙂

  8. Miss Rosemary September 9, 2011 / 8:15 AM

    Sign, sign, sign, it’s totally a sign!!! go, have fun, learn things, get published! I’m all for it. You never know what life is going to throw at you or when it presents a golden opportunity, and you really have nothing to lose from this.

    AND you are not delusional, blogging is writing and your work count is therefore exponential.

    • jannatwrites September 10, 2011 / 12:06 AM

      Thanks for your support of my blogging being writing, Miss Rosemary! I don’t plan on pitching anything at this conference, so at least I don’t have that pressure. As you say, I’ve got nothing to lose 🙂

  9. pattisj September 9, 2011 / 9:31 PM

    I’m glad you’re going, Janna. I think it’s the right thing to do. Interesting how your son’s meet was changed…

    • jannatwrites September 10, 2011 / 12:08 AM

      I was happy about the change, too, Patti. Now I can take it in without feeling like I should’ve been with my son instead.

  10. jollof September 12, 2011 / 10:08 AM

    Reading your post got me thinking…and then it hit me – a girl I met saved my life. We’re not together anymore but I’m sure that if our paths didnt cross whilst doing my Master s course then I woudln’t be typing this comment right now. One day I was cooking for a bunch of guys at my flat and forgot to switch off one of the gas knobs. We left the the flat and the gas leaked for over 6hours. On my way back home I stopped by my girlfriend’s place since it was closer to my place and she insisted that we go back to my place instead. I was tired and reluctant but she was very persuasive. As soon as I opened my door the smell was so overwhelming and as it was dark I attempted to switch on the light – that’s when my girlfriend slapped my hand down and gave me the scolding of my life. After airing the whole flat for about 2 hours I realized she was my guardian angel. She’s on the other side of the world now but we’ll probably bump into each other in another season.

    • jannatwrites September 12, 2011 / 11:11 PM

      Wow! That is an incredible story, and it’s another example of how God puts people into our lives for a reason. I’m glad that there was no tragedy that night and that you are alive and well, Jollof.

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