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IWWG Conference 2019

This year’s IWWG conference is going to be different from previous conferences for me. I’ll be missing family members.

I’ve been attending or teaching at the Guild conference for almost 25 years. Throughout those years, I developed many close, valuable friendships.

Some of those friends, those vibrant, intelligent, creative friends became extended family for me. Arriving on campus each year was like arriving at a family reunion. Excitement bubbled for weeks before the event. Phone calls and emails were exchanged. Arrival meant help and hugs and laughter. The week of the conference added more strands to the fabric of the friendship—laughter, a few tears, and the inspiration and encouragement to grow and stretch in my life and my writing.

Several of those friends attended weekend writing retreats at my home. One of those friends, Liz, edited my first book, Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom. Another friend, Anne, helped me develop my own editing skills while I was writing my just published novel, In the Land of the Vultures. I dedicate my new nonfiction book, Tarot for the Fiction Writer, to my father, a tarot expert, and to Zita, who encouraged me to explore tarot as a book coaching tool. Those friends helped me find the confidence to be the high priestess I am, the speaker and teacher I am, and the writer and author I am.

Why will this conference be different? Because, as happens with the passage of time, many of my family members have died, moved, or have other challenges in their lives and won’t be at this conference. When I sit down to meals, they won’t be present at the table…or in the classroom or walking the halls with me, or talking about anything or everything in the evening.

Anne won’t have me in stitches with her dry wit and sly looks. Liz won’t be listening to the conversation with her intense focus and her ever-present giant plastic cup of Coke. Zita will be writing in her magical office at home instead of creating ritual magic, and Marj will be teaching new students the power of the just-right word. These friends and several others have moved on, to other work, other places and other existences.

And their absences will be marked for me. I will feel a little untethered.

But, there will be familiar and new faces at this conference. Women I will sit with at meals who may become new friends, even new family members. That’s the power of the Guild and the conference. To not only give you the ability to become the writer you want to be, but also to give you a community of friends, even new family members.

Will I see you sitting across the table from me?

Paula Chaffee Scardamalia

is book coach, dream and tarot intuitive and the author of fiction, In the Land of the Vultures (Wild Rose Press, December 2018), and nonfiction, Tarot for the Fiction Writer (Schiffer Publishing, Spring 2019). For 20 years, Paula’s presented workshops across the country at: national and regional Romance Writers of America conferences and meetings; the San Diego University Writers Conference; and the International Women’s Writing Guild. Paula publishes a weekly e-newsletter on writing, creativity, dreams, and tarot. She was dream consultant for PEOPLE Country Magazine, and is the award-winning author of Weaving a Woman’s Life.



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Showing 4 comments
  • Roberta Kuriloff

    So very moving. Thank you, Paula, for sharing. It makes me look forward to the conference even more.

  • Zita Christian

    To be at the conference is to be an ingredient in a soup that can heal the world. Thank you, Paula, for stirring the sweet memories.

  • Kathleen Pooler

    Paula, This is such a touching tribute to those who have moved on as well as to the new family you have yet to meet. Looking forward to seeing you at the conference! Thank you for this heartfelt reflection on the meaning of friendships.

  • Cathleen O'Connor

    Beautiful piece, Paula and so connected to the hearts of the women of the Guild – present and so deeply missed. Thank you for all of us.

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