It was time for me to go home, but I did not want to leave. The day’s symposium schedule was only half complete. I had half a dozen conversations begun and interrupted. I wanted to stay. I wanted to visit with my friends and meet new people. But the school day was ending and I needed to be there to pick up my kids and take them home. Then I needed to remain home to provide normality. The kids can handle a couple of days with the schedule skewed around business, but four days running was a bit much. So I opted to miss Thursday afternoon rather than Friday or Saturday. These are the compromises I must make between my mother role and just about every other role in my life.
I was just beginning to pack away things and arrange for our table full of books to be watched by a friend, when Brandon Sanderson walked into the room trailing a dozen people. Apparently Brandon had ended his last panel by announcing that he would be hanging out next to our table for an hour and people could come chat. This is something that Brandon and Howard frequently do. We enjoy having our table be a gathering place and we try to plan so that we have enough space to share. I quickly scooted our merchandise over to make room for stacks of Brandon’s books. Then I spent a few minutes cashiering for Brandon and his assistant Peter.
Brandon sat on a chair and the fans sat on the floor around him. The question and answer session became something of an impromptu panel as Dan Wells, Bob Defendi, Jessica Douglas, and I all chimed in with thoughts on the topic of the moment. Mostly we all listened to Brandon, because he was the one people were there to hear and because he knows a lot about how to help writers who are just getting started. Gradually the room filled up. I kept watching the clock, calculating the very last minute I could spend before I had to leave. The minutes fled far too quickly.
I maneuvered my way from behind the table, past Brandon, and through the crowd which now extended all the way to the door. I bid farewell to a couple of friends in the hall and began the trek to the parking lot. The chilly walk and 20 minute drive were just about long enough for me to fold away my writer thoughts, convention thoughts, and business thoughts, while also unfolding all the mother thoughts. Tomorrow morning I will reverse the process as I drop the kids at school and drive to the symposium again.
The packing and unpacking of thoughts is necessary because I can not best fulfill a role if I am distracted by thoughts that belong to a different role. This is often hard. The writer in me grieves when I walk away from an event to go be a mother instead. I grieve when I must leave conversations so that I can go be alone with my kids. But the mother and introvert in me rejoice to be home where I am needed and where there is quiet. Practice makes all things easier. This has become easier, but it is still hard.
I look forward to tomorrow.