Gearing Up for the 10th Annual Breathe Christian Writers Conference

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Just a quick note to let you know that I will be speaking tomorrow at the 10th annual Breathe Christian Writers Conference, keynoted by James Scott Bell (#1 bestselling author of Plot & Structure, Write Your Novel from the Middle, and thrillers like Don’t Leave Me, Blind Justice, and One More Lie).

I’ll be teaching a workshop I call Settings to Make Your Novel Unforgettable. I previewed this talk last year at a local NaNoWriMo event after the Lansing area leader/mentor/queen bee asked me to talk about settings. I said yes (you always say yes) and then figured out what I wanted to talk about later. It turned out to be a fun, informative, and (I think) helpful session. And now, after some recent experiences for me, I think it’s going to be even better.

I’m so excited to get to the conference, reconnect with the people I’ve met there over the years, and discuss the shared passion of writing in a setting where the attendees also share the same faith. It’s such a positive, welcoming atmosphere, and I’m always grateful to be a part of it.

What’s Left of Luxury

My favorite terrible place at the Silverdome was the ballroom/restaurant near the luxury boxes.

I wish I’d had more time in that space, but I did manage to get a few nice shots of the dregs at the bottom of the proverbial glass.

There was little left to focus on.

So few objects to hint at what once was.

So much had been sold off or stolen.

And only ghosts remained.

It’s a sobering reminder that all our best efforts to make a mark on this earth eventually come to naught.

Glass breaks.

Paint peels.

Carpet is eaten by moss.

The lights go out.

And the party ends.

 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

~ Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

A Silver Opportunity: On the Set of Silverdome

This weekend I had the opportunity to take some of the last photos that will likely be taken in the Pontiac Silverdome, home of the Detroit Lions from 1975 to 2002.

A dear friend and talented writer, Ted Kluck, asked me to take stills of the production of his first feature-length film, Silverdome.

My husband and I were delighted to join him and his wife Kristin in Pontiac for a few hours. Ted and Kristin are our closest friends and they moved last year to Tennessee.

Silverdome is the last film project to get to shoot at the stadium before what remains of the structure is demolished to make way for new development.

The building that cost more than $55 million to build was finally auctioned off in 2009 for just $583,000. That’s 1% of its original value, for anyone counting.

I only ever saw part of one Lions game at the Silverdome. I remember little about it — just walking around the concourse with my father, seeing glimpses of the players in their Honolulu blue jerseys through the entrances to the seating areas, like passing a huge TV and then another huge TV and another, the sound of the game ebbing and flowing like the regular rhythm of tires over concrete seams on the highway.

I know others were there. My sister, perhaps. My uncle and my cousins.

Which makes me think it might have been Thanksgiving, because that’s when we went to Detroit to eat the holiday meal with family.

On second thought, maybe my sister wasn’t there. She’s never been allowed in the room when the Lions played on Thanksgiving because every time she came in, someone would fumble or there’d be a turnover or a field goal would be missed. Then everyone would yell at her to leave and not let up until she did. Poor Alison.

I don’t remember sitting in any of the 80,000+ seats the one day I was there.

I don’t remember walking into or out of the stadium.

All I remember is walking around the outside of the action, apart from the game, which the Lions were (predictably) losing — with or without my sister’s presence.

Being just outside the action is a frequent feeling for me. Lurking at the edges of the party. Loitering at the door of the gym. Looping around on the margins, rarely walking straight in.

I’ve lived in Lansing for eleven years and I have never been to a Michigan State football game. I can hear the muffled sound of the announcers and the roar of the crowd from my back yard. And it gives me a warm, pleased feeling.

But I never go.

Crowds make me vaguely uncomfortable.

I hate jostling for a place in line, hate trying to get in and out of busy parking lots, hate moving in a river of humanity from one place to the next.

I much prefer solitude.

Or perhaps the company of a few good friends.

But solitude in a place that was meant to be filled with crowds of people is a very specific kind of solitude.

Sad and nostalgic and mingled with regret.

It’s days you will never get back. Memories that become harder to hold onto.

In 2013, a particularly bad storm tore apart the deflated canvas roof of the Silverdome. Nature had begun the process that I think most of us knew had to happen eventually: deconstruction.

Plans for revamping were scrapped in favor of plans for a shovel-ready site that someone might actually want.

Beyond football legends like Barry Sanders and basketball legends like Isaiah Thomas (the Pistons played in the Silverdome before The Palace of Auburn Hills was built), acts such as Pete Townsend, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Michael Jackson, graced stages erected in the stadium. I even work with a woman who saw Elvis there on New Year’s Eve of 1975.

It’s hard to imagine, let alone estimate, how many people over the past forty years have walked through these doors and sat in these seats.

And now, these are the only people left.

The last men standing.