Since my husband is my official writing coach though he’s neither a writer nor a coach, I paid attention when he said 2011 was the year to attend a writing conference. Of course his advice was obvious considering we’re expecting baby #4 the first week of November. It’s not as if 2012 will be “the year of the conference” for me unless it’s a weekend with La Leche League.

Once I got over the paralyzing fear of attending my first conference, I went on a research sprint, analyzing every option and weighing the pros, cons, and prices. The summer offerings from Wesleyan, Squaw Valley, Tin House and others look incredible, but most are a week or longer. Bryan’s supportive, but he’s not Mother Theresa. And I’m smart enough to want him to remember my four days away as a bonding time with the kids so idyllic he’s “coaching” me to go again in a few years.

Then I saw a tweet about The Muse & and the Marketplace taking place in Boston at the end of April. We got a BINGO ladies and gentlemen. The Muse & The Marketplace is a two-day conference jam-packed with small-group classes. The instructors are authors such as Jenna Blum, Elinor Lipman, Alice Hoffman, Danielle Evans, Michelle Hoover, Ann Hood, and Jennifer Haigh to name a few. I’m taking a session led by the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column for goodness sake. I’ll have the chance to meet some of the dream agents I plan to query in a few years when my novel-in-progress is ready.

I’d be sick with nerves about this whole adventure if not for Twitter and all the friendly faces I’ll see. Those of us going have been tweeting about it for months and making plans to see each other before and after the main events. (People on Twitter heading to The Muse: now would be a good time to replace the avatar of your pet with one of your face. Thanks.) The best part is I’m going a day early and staying a day late so I can make something of a writing retreat out of the time. Frankly, at this point I’m too excited for nerves. Mama’s getting out-of-town, people! Even the airport sounds obscenely delightful.

As for Bryan and the kids, nobody should worry. I’ve set up a system of help from my in-laws and from our friends that should make the four days a breeze. (Thank you in advance to everyone coming to Bryan’s aid.) As for baby #4, I’ll have more on that in the future–although not very much. I’ve got the pregnancy symptoms and even the sleep/feeding issues of the infant stage down by now. The parenting issues that interest me now are more relevant to my older two. Will my six-year-old ever stop using his shirt as a napkin? Will my four-year-old ever stop begging her friends’ parents for treats during play dates? Our big guys are very excited to have a new baby in the house. Our two-year-old keeps saying “baby crying.” Surprisingly, she seems to have the best grasp of what’s coming.

If you’re a regular on this blog, then you can guess THE ONE baby issue I’m planning to discuss. BABY NAMES!  But we have a long time to start worrying about all that. Since I’m in the post-nausea/ pre-heartburn/currently-freakishly-shiny hair phase, I plan to enjoy it with tons of writing. (And good hair.)

Have a great week everyone! Looking forward to seeing some of you in Boston. Nina :)

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Nina is a columnist at The HerStories Project and a contributing writer at and Her essays have appeared regularly at Brain, Child Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Jewish Daily Forward and have been syndicated in Jewish newspapers across the country. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines, and she loved participating in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother. Nina is a co-founder of The Twin Cities Writing Studio. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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