I enjoy planning ahead and the organizational detail that goes with it. So, when I thought I could have arthroscopic knee surgery a few days before the February, 2015, San Francisco Writers Conference, I had carefully considered my options. Optimism ruled my heart.
I compared this surgery to the same one I’d had years ago on the other knee. I had suffered little pain and walked without aid right away. Not this time. The day after surgery, the pain had intensified and I used crutches to relieve it when I walked. Oh, woe is me, I thought. And the recommended exercises were to start day three – the day the conference started. I questioned my sanity about attending. What had I been thinking to say yes to this surgery? I did have other options. I could have waited until after the conference. But the meniscus had torn in September and I was tired of the pain when I walked and which often kept me awake at night. I had worked it out that I would take a taxi from my hotel to the front door of the Mark Hopkins, the site of the conference.
One of the organizers of the conference sent an email two days before it started saying the area around the hotel would be blocked off (two blocks) around the circumference of the hotel in order to protect the comings and goings of President Barack Obama, who was in town for meetings. My heart plummeted to the floor.
The Hilton hotel I planned to stay in was several blocks away from the Mark Hopkins. Cars and taxis would be barred from coming close, and there were expected traffic delays. Much to my chagrin, I realized I could not attend the conference. My knee would not withstand the pressure of the strenuous climb up or down the hills for three days in order to gain entrance to the hotel. Even people with healthy legs had trouble carting their suitcases up the hill. However, I decided unless the conference would refund my money, I was stuck. I’d attend anyway.
I phoned the event organizer and told him about my problem. I asked if he would refund my money. He said no, but he could carry my registration fee over to the 2016 conference. I’m thankful for the generous gesture. I contacted hotels.com and was able to cancel my room without penalty.
The day the conference opened I thought of my friends attending and fell into a blue funk I enjoy being with other writers and I had been told the presenters gave inspiring classes and were helpful on a personal basis. I had also paid extra money for the privilege of “pitching” my now complete novel to a few literary agents. The advantage of that meant they might say they liked my idea and wanted me to send a query letter via email. Seeing them at this prestigious conference would give precedence to me over non-attendees who submit their books cold to agents.
Well, there’s next year. Often in life, the missed opportunities give way to something better. I don’t know what that is at the moment, but will look for it in my future. In the meantime, I’m excited about next year’s conference. I’m sure another great group of writers, presenters, agents and editors will be present. And I will reserve my room at the Mark Hopkins hotel early.