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A Different Type of Meeting, Magical Even


With quite the year of change for Rodney and me, and the PASS Summit 2010 behind us, we decided it was time to finally start exploring some of our other interests.  One in particular was to seek out and join an established writers group.  Now that we are settled down for a bit here, and Orlando being the size that it is, we figured there likely had to be one in this area.  So last Tuesday I did a quick search and lucky me, found a group having a meeting not only the very next evening, but on a topic that is something we have wanted to explore for years, travel writing.  With all the travel that Rodney and I do, and all the great cities we get to see, whether it be for work, vacations, or community events such as SQL Saturdays, we really wish we had taken more time to actually blog or write articles about the places and sites that we’ve been so fortunate to see.  I think we just have been so caught up in the technical world for so long, we lost our “beat” somewhere along the way to one of the common passions we both share, well make that two, non technical writing being one and photography being the other.  And sure we make mentions of places in our posts, and include pics of presenters and fellow geeks, but typically those posts are focused on the event, not so much about the host cities themselves.  I’m even ashamed to say that of the last four trips I’ve been on, I have not taken one picture of anything outside of the event or business for which brought me to these places.  I was excited when I heard there was a PhotoWalk organized for that Monday at the PASS Summit, but quickly disappointed when I learned that it was during the same time as the SQL Saturday Round Table, which being as passionate about SQL Saturdays as I am, I wasn’t about to miss that, not for something that would have been more or less a guilty pleasure for me.   However, had I gone to this writers meeting before the summit, I think I just might have changed my mind and asked for acquittal from the Bossman (if you don’t know this already, that’s my nickname for Andy Warren). 

The writers meeting was hosted by the Orlando Area Writers Group, a regional affiliate of the Florida Writers Association, and is organized by Rik Feeney.  The attendance at this meeting was around 30-35, and the demographics of these individuals comprised mostly of those who have either already written a novel, or several novels even, to those that are writing their very first novel.  Someone else in attendance was my fifteen year old daughter.  Yes I dragged her along hoping that since she loves photography and is getting a new camera for Christmas, that maybe the meeting would inspire her to start her first blog and take an interest in writing.  (No luck, at least not this time).  There were two presenters on the topic of travel writing, Bob Jenkins and Rick Sylvain.  Bob wrote many years for the St. Petersburg Times here in Florida, and is now freelancing ( Rick currently works for one of the truest kingdoms of magic, Walt Disney World, as the Publicity Director (  It was an absolute treat and inspiration to not only hear about the tales of these two extensive world travelers, but the advice they provided was absolutely invaluable to those of us who have only dabbled in writing, and having the curiosity to take it to the next level. 

Part of their presentation was a reference to a website called Transitions Abroad, an article called “The Seven Myths of Being a Travel Writer” written by Tim Leffel.  I could list out all seven myths here for you, but I highly recommend reading the entire article, as each of these seven items come with some great advice and tips for those seriously considering being a travel writer.  With that said, I will share with you one of the things that I took away from that meeting, and that I think is good advice for those who are still reading this and interested in travel writing. 

The presenter said many times the word “serendipity”, by Webster’s definition, “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for”.  It is true with almost everywhere you go, an occurrence (good or bad) or a site or a person or object, that certain something that makes that trip most memorable.  The same holds true for almost every picture you take (I say almost because there are certainly pictures that I have come across in my collection that I have no idea where or when they were taken), that there is undoubtedly some memory attached to most of those photos, and one in which I have now come to realize is likely worthy to be written about.  This was the part of the presentation that really opened up my near tearing eyes,  all the serendipity that I’ve been blind to, and unfortunately has caused me to regret not writing more about all the adventures Rodney and I have been on.  And sure I could write about them now, but don’t trust that my memory will be able to do those moments their due justice.  Even if I had written and no one else ever published or read of my musings, at least my children could read these stories to their children.  (Note to self, must get back to writing a daily personal journal…why did I ever stop).  The magic I took away from this meeting has guaranteed me that I will not let these things get past me again. My goal is to write about every city I visit from this day forward.  I will even write about things that I come to see in Orlando, not just the things that I have never seen or heard about before, but even Disney and all the magic it still continues to bring to my family no matter how often we go. 

Many of you in the technical world blog about the SQL Saturdays, user group meetings, and other events that you travel and present at, and make mention of the cities and occasionally sites you saw there, but I challenge you to try this, make it two separate blogs.  One blog about the event, and then a separate one that will be devoted entirely to the city or piece of serendipity you experienced while visiting that city.

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  1. Nicely written. I will take on your challenge. I will do a separate blog post *with pictures* of my recent trip to D.C. for SQL Saturday #61.

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