Monday, August 2, 2010

Camp Prom

by Susan Sey

When I was in high school, we referred to the junior/senior prom simply as Prom. Not the prom. Prom. Proper noun. As in, "Are you going to Prom?" "Anybody ask you to Prom yet?" "I found a wicked awesome dress for Prom this weekend. It'll rock with my black lace half-gloves & asymmetrical haircut."

Maybe it was a generational thing. (Those gloves sure were.) Because I also seem to remember referring to summer camp that way. "You sign up for Camp yet?" "I'm doing the two-week Camp this summer, plus a week of CIT training." "I can't wait for Camp."

I, like many geeky misfits, lived for Camp. (Prom not so much.) Camp was time out of time, a brief respite from a social hierarchy cemented in elementary school. Camp was full of kids who didn't know about the time in 3rd grade when you barfed corn dogs all over Mrs. Ecklestein's floor, and had never heard about your ill-fated flirtation with the crimping iron and stirrup pants.

Camp was a new wardrobe, a clean slate & a fresh start.

But more than that, Camp was also full of friends. Not just friends, though. Peers. Like-minded souls. Camp usually self-selects--church camp, horse camp, choir camp, sports camp...whatever it is, you're suddenly surrounded by people who love what you love.

Camp means finding your People. And time with them is precious. Brief. A cherished few weeks or days once a year.

I have finally realized that RWA's national convention is my new Camp.

I take a few days each summer to spend with my People. People who understand that the only thing scary about hearing voices in your head is the possibility that one day they may disappear.

People who fling around terms like Pantser & Plotzer with completely straight faces.

People who nod with grave sympathy when you tell them you chickened out of a fan girl moment for the fifth year in a row & tell you about the time they had one too many glasses of wine and didn't chicken out of their fan girl moment but sincerely wish they had.

I'm home now, exhausted from the travel & late nights. Terrified by the work ahead of me that seemed so possible and thrilling when I discussed it with my People just a few days ago.

And I have a whole year to walk through before it happens again. A whole book to write. Maybe two.

But I'm also energized from floating on all that creative energy, and motivated by having spoken by goals out loud to people who won't hesitate to kick my butt for me should I hesitated to follow through.

So now? Now I get to work. Wish me luck. And don't be afraid to drop me a stern email every now & then to make sure I'm on track.

How about you? What's your oasis every year, your respite from the grind? Who are your People, & where do you find them? How do you keep going between visits?

36 comments:

jo robertson said...

Hi, Susan! Welcome back! We've missed our Banditas and Buddies here in the oh-so-very quiet Lair. Did you see the wonderful Awards Dianna posted for us who were "left behind"?

Oh, joy, I get to tame the rooster after he's spend a wild week jaunting between Orlando and the Lair. He's unmanageable!

jo robertson said...

Ah, yes, my Camp is your Camp, my People are your People. And isn't it wonderful to be in the presence of folks who write and understand the joys and frustrations of the industry?

I also have an annual get-away that renews my "mommy" energies. I go away with my three daughters and one DIL (two of my sons are divorced) and we just pamper ourselves, tell mommy nightmares and generally shore up energy for the year to come. We also do this near Mothers Day so the husbands have no excuse not to tend the kiddies. It's loads of fun!

Helen said...

Well done Jo have fun with him although I suspect he is going to be very tired after being at Nationals.

Firstly WHOO HOO Beth congrats I am so happy for you I loved that book and it so deserved to win Way to go.

Susan
I belong to The Asutralian Romance Readers Association and they are my camp I am on the EC and am loving it I also organize a lunch date once a month here in Sydney because we are spread out all over the country so athere are often lunches in every state.

I always feel on such a high after I have been talking to my friends and it really is awesome.

Have Fun
Helen

barb said...

Hi Jo... good luck taming GR you may have a problem there.

Susan, my camp is a sewing retreat for 4 days .... not much sleep.... a lot of sewing, talking and eating LOL. I do see some of the ladies through the year but some we only see at the retreat..... we have it in October so not too long to wait now. I also belong to the Australian Romance Readers Association and go on the monthly lunches with Helen... who said life would be boring when you retired????? not me

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Jo! Heavens, it sounds like you need a respite from the GR! Send that chook on vacation for a while and take a few days just to bask in the rooster-free glow. :-)

And, oh, I have to say, Mommy Camp sounds so wonderful! I wish I had something similar but until very recently, I was the only of the four girls in my family to have babies. Two of my sisters corrected that ridiculous oversight in the past six months, and the third is now looking on with wide, skeptical eyes.

So probably no mommy camp for a couple years. :-) But when the times comes, I'm totally suggesting it. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Helen! So glad to be back in the Lair!

And WOOT to Beth for her fabulous RITA win! We're crazy proud of you.

I love that you organize a lunch for your friends once a month, Helen. I have a pair of mommy friends & we do lunch once a week. We used to see each other for playdates at least once a week if not two or three times, but then our kids grew bigger & started school.

Now opportunities don't present themselves as a matter of course--we have to make them.

So we make them at places we can get something to eat. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Barb wrote: Susan, my camp is a sewing retreat for 4 days .... not much sleep.... a lot of sewing, talking and eating LOL.

Sounds a lot like our "camp", Barb! :-)

Isn't it wonderful, though, to just get away from real life & wallow in being with your People? What do you all work on when you're together? Do you plan out new projects? Or does everybody bring what they're currently working on? Do you share ideas, materials, etc? It sounds wonderful....

Joan said...

I agree with Jo...my People are your People and dang, I miss my People already.

But...I also have Ducklings who amaze me with their insights, their determination, their savvy approach to the writing world.

And their comfy pj's :-)

My goals are to get my a** in gear by the 15th or one of my Texas ducklings will kick it! And I expect given the opportunity...so will my Minneapolis one :-) Which would make me smile with gratitude.

Off for baby cat duty

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Barb, how do you find a sewing camp? That sounds like loads of fun. Next to reading I like sewing best.

I don't have camps but I have blogs! I tall/listen to my people every day :-)

Deb said...

Hi, Susan. I'm so glad you had a great time at Camp with your People!! :)

I have 2 yearly "camps". In the fall, my entire family rents a large cabin at Backbone State Park for a weekend where we walk, talk, have cookouts, and sit around the campfire until late night. (Note: a modern cabin with all conveniences.)

The second one is in the summer when my two sisters, our mother, and I go to a bed and breakfast for a day or two and have Girl Time. It's an awesome and great time with my 3 best friends. We did take the granddaughters and the one grandson this last time on a day trip.

My college friends and I used to get together twice a year, but I'm the one who has not been able to go the last 2 or 3 years. My husband is only home on weekends and I have a 10-year-old daughter. It was different when DH had a job when he was home every night, but our time together with Shary is precious....I feel that I am missing out, but hope to get together again with my friends in the future. I don't know if they "get it" or not since most of their kids are in high school or older and their husbands are home every night.

Louisa Cornell said...

Tame? The GR tame? ROFL !! Good Luck with that!

And yes, Smoov, my People are your People and it was so good to see you amongst our People this week. I really do love our "camp" and hate to see it end. When it does I have to come back to the "real" world and handle the DDJ.

But, every year I learn something new, meet a new friend and become more inspired to do the things I need to do to become who I really want to be.

The best part of our "camp" is the comraderie, the laughter and the sisterhood. You just can't beat it!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Susan, gotta say, Your People are My People, too! It's such great fun to be in a "camp" where everyone "gets it" when we talk about books, the writing process, the frustrations, the highs, the lows, the awards....CONGRATS BETH!!!...and the achievments...(pink ribbons!)

Luckily for me, I get a second "camp" every year or so when 10 of my Texas girls go on a writer's weekend retreat. Yahoo!! This year it's in Denver and I can't wait to see the fall changes while talking books, writing and drinking!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

And Joanie....You bet I'll kick your a** if I don't see that synopsis by the 15th! Consider this your first deadline, lady!!

Donna MacMeans said...

Woohoo Susan - What a blast to spend some time with you in Orlando and yes - my people are your people as well. I love my banditas and BBs. It's one thing to talk to folks on the internet, but another to see them in person and talk - with liquor at hand (grin). These occasions are necessary to maintain our sanity - you know? I certainly feel energized after having had too little sleep for a week.

Barb - a sewing camp? I have a hard time envisioning this. Do you work on individual projects or just discuss the techniques? Go on fabric purchasing road trips? I can so see that this is something I could easily get into. I'm sure you come back charged up about a new project.

Jo - as I went to National with my daughter, I guess that was "mommy" camp as well (grin). We managed a fun day at Universal and came home sunburnt and tired from too much fun.

Donna MacMeans said...

Dianna - Just wanted to say I saw the page you set up for the bandita awards. How sweet! Thank you to Jo, Cindy, and Caren for holding down the fort in our absence. Missed you guys (sniff).

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WELCOME HOME, Smoov!

And all the other Banditas and BBs who have straggled in last night and this morning! WE MISSED YOU SOOO MUCH!!

I never went to camp as a child. Went to a couple of proms. Can't say I enjoyed them all that much...

I'm so bummed that I missed my "camp" this year and am already counting down the days until I can see all of you in NYC! Also looking forward to piccies of the GR in Orlando.

AC

Pissenlit said...

Is "prom" an American term? From American tv and some American relatives, I've only ever heard of it as "prom" but we've always called it "the formal" here.

My oasis used to be interior camping in Algonquin Provincial Park every summer till some of my usual camping buddies had kids and then the camping trips just sort of stopped. Now, I don't really have one anymore...maybe a trip to someone's cottage once in awhile. I suppose I have a few groups of People on an regular basis as opposed to one group of People that you only get to spend a short time with every year. Wait does that make any sense? It's the long weekend and I just came back from the cottage yesterday and am really out of it at the moment...lol!

TerriOsburn said...

I never went to Prom, but I did go to band camp, and you're right, that's exactly how it was. RWA is definitely my Camp. I live for that one week a year when I get to see and hug all the people I virtually live with every day. They have all become my family.

I haven't read the comments yet so I've no idea if someone pointed this out, but technically, RWA 2011 is only ELEVEN months away. LOL! Yippee!

Thank you for being so sweet. I would have run my pitch by you had I not written it at 12:30am the night before. And finished the last line one minute before I had to line up. :)

Nancy said...

Jo, congrats on the bird!

Susan, your camp is my camp. My other camp is DragonCon, where I go, as my buddy Amy put it, to "fly my freak flag" with my fellow geeks every Labor Day weekend.

And a big whoo-hoo for Beth! The RITA statuette accessorized her lovely dress rather nicely.

TerriOsburn said...

Would you believe the ONE time I leave the RITA's to use the little writer's room is the moment Beth wins a RITA? I'm still mad at myself for missing what I'm sure was an awesome speech!

Susan Sey said...

Joan wrote: My goals are to get my a** in gear by the 15th or one of my Texas ducklings will kick it! And I expect given the opportunity...so will my Minneapolis one :-) Which would make me smile with gratitude.

Isn't it funny how grateful we are for people who'll give our butts? You'd thing the world was short of people willing to tell us brutal truths. :-)

I suppose the difference is that I know my People are delivering the truth out of love.

And yes, I'll be delivering it to Louisville post haste if I find out you're slacking over there! BEcause your stories are too good to keep to yourself. Now get typing!

Susan Sey said...

hrdwrkdmom wrote: I don't have camps but I have blogs! I tall/listen to my people every day :-)

What a great perspective! I hadn't even thought of that! You're right, though--chatting here every day really is a highlight.

And I didn't know you sewed, Dianna! Is that a long time hobby or something new?

Susan Sey said...

Deb wrote: I feel that I am missing out, but hope to get together again with my friends in the future. I don't know if they "get it" or not since most of their kids are in high school or older and their husbands are home every night.

Oh, I feel for you, Deb! I know exactly what it is to be the odd girl out, when your life just conspires to put you on different footing from your People. It's so hard not to be envious of their time or money or position, or whatever.

Things always even out but in the meantime I remind myself that one day the tables might be turned, & I hope I'll always remember what it felt like to be outside so I'll remember to invite people in.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekends with your husband and daughter. That's precious time, too!

Susan Sey said...

Louisa wrote: But, every year I learn something new, meet a new friend and become more inspired to do the things I need to do to become who I really want to be.

Know what I like best about what you said, Louisa? Besides everything, of course? The part about making new friends. I think sometimes we're so glad to see old ones we forget to reach out for new ones.

But I"m always thrilled to meet new old friends, if that makes sense. People who just feel like old friends, even when they're new.

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: Luckily for me, I get a second "camp" every year or so when 10 of my Texas girls go on a writer's weekend retreat. Yahoo!!

Oh, envy is in my heart! I can't wait until my kids are big enough to get by without mommy for a few days so I can put together an annual plot weekend, too!

Happy writing, & here's to mucho creativity in the bottom of all those wine glasses!

Susan Sey said...

Donna wrote: It's one thing to talk to folks on the internet, but another to see them in person and talk - with liquor at hand (grin).

It does add something, doesn't it? :-)

It was great to meet your daughter this week, Donna--so glad you guys got to have some mom/daughter time! Maybe one day my kids will be big enough to come with me and be a companion rather than a disaster! I have it on good authority that they actually do grow up...

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: I'm so bummed that I missed my "camp" this year and am already counting down the days until I can see all of you in NYC! Also looking forward to piccies of the GR in Orlando.

Oh, AC, we missed you something terrible! And I'm with you--NYC is going to be amazing. Here's me raising a glass to the idea of the banditas & bbs taking the city by storm!

Susan Sey said...

Pissenlit wrote: I suppose I have a few groups of People on an regular basis as opposed to one group of People that you only get to spend a short time with every year. Wait does that make any sense?

Absolutely! I have my writer People, then my local People, then my family People...it's confusing to try to chart it all but in reality it works just fine. :-)

And lucky you for having a few different resources when you need your People.

BTW, prom is short for Promenade, a reference, I think, to the practice of walking down a fancy walk-way to get into the ball, where on-lookers can gasp at your finery.

Though I could be wrong. Anybody have better info?

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn wrote: I would have run my pitch by you had I not written it at 12:30am the night before. And finished the last line one minute before I had to line up. :)

And it sounds like you did just fine without my help! All those lovely full requests...nice! Keep us posted!

And thank you for pointing out the RWA 2011 IS actually only 11 months away since it's at the end of June next year. Cause for celebration! Somebody quick break out the champagne!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: My other camp is DragonCon, where I go, as my buddy Amy put it, to "fly my freak flag" with my fellow geeks every Labor Day weekend.

Nothing like letting that freak flag fly. :-) I love it. I've never been to DRagon Con but I'll bet I'd love it. And, hey, it's coming right up! Hope you enjoy it! Do you get to dress up, or is your freak flag figurative?

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn wrote: Would you believe the ONE time I leave the RITA's to use the little writer's room is the moment Beth wins a RITA?

I know, right? I was holding it and holding it because I was determined to see every category, just in case...

And then Beth went & did it! And two of my chapter mates hauled home the GHs for STContemp & Short Category. It was a good night for speeches. But my favorite was the woman who thanked Diet Coke. Brilliant.

Nancy said...

Susan, I don't dress up. I own what the dh refers to as "a selection of appropriately decorated t-shirts." He just wears his regular clothes. The boy, however, has costumes and marches in the parade (which the dh refers to as the extroverted half of the con performing for the introverted half, though some of the people I see on the sidelines do not dress in anything that appears remotely introverted, so I suspect they just don't want to do all that walking in the heat).

And just BTW, congratulations on SELLING OUT at your first literacy signing!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: The boy, however, has costumes and marches in the parade (which the dh refers to as the extroverted half of the con performing for the introverted half

This made me laugh out loud. It's such a succinct bit of truth. :-)
Have fun!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: And just BTW, congratulations on SELLING OUT at your first literacy signing!

Thanks, Nancy! I think that bright red cover has really done well for me!

Pat Cochran said...

My People are my family and Camp
takes place at DD2's home in The
Woodlands. We meet 2/3 times a
month, usually for b'day parties.
Camp #1 is this coming Saturday
for the first 3 b'days of this
month. Three more to come toward
the end of the month. It's party time!

Pat Cochran

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Susan, I had sewn for years but when my mother became ill and my schedule went crazy it fell by the wayside. I am just now picking it up again after a very long hiatus. I have also became a size you can't buy off the racks! To get the look I want I have to make it now.