Midwest Writers Workshop: Places

So, the places of MWW 2014. Well, a number of them come to mind, but I’ll focus on just a handful – a couple of gas stations, our hotel, and the conference center itself.
On the way to the conference, I stopped at a gas station in Iowa shortly after picking up my friend/travel buddy Rena. There are several things to look for when choosing a great gas station at which to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. The most important are that it’s actually open, that at least one pump isn’t covered by a plastic bag saying out of order, and that the ladies room has both toilet paper and soap. Unless you’re a man, in which case the last one is irrelevant – although I do hope your facilities have soap as well.
This gas station had all these wonderful things, with one super spectacular bonus – a trucker, who as I approached the building and removed my sunglasses, announced in a Mickey Mouse voice “I see you now”.
No.
My new friend also followed me to the coffee counter and asked if it was too early for coffee. Nay, my friend, 10 am is much, much too late for the first cup.
So a tip for those of you who may stop in just such a gas station on YOUR way to a writing conference – be prepared for irrational questioning and people who just don’t understand the coffee-soaked life.
We stayed at the Baymont in Muncie, and it was a great hotel. Aside from our room key not working at first, our room was clean and everything in working condition, and the buffet breakfast was very well stocked. The hotel was quiet and we were able to get all the extra things we needed. For the price, it was a good value and I am glad I can recommend it…believe me, there have been other hotels I wouldn’t go within 500 miles of.
The conference center was a very nice facility – once I found it, after fifteen minutes of u-turns and dodging campus parking security – with plenty of room for everyone and a layout that was easy to understand. The signs were clear and easy to understand, and despite the lack of control over the thermostat, it remained quite comfortable for the most part. A couple recommendations for you: plot out which sessions you’d like to attend as much as possible ahead of time, and find the places and routes to get to them on the map so when one session ends and you’re to move to the next one you already know where to go and can navigate the crowd instead of looking around so much. Bring water, chapstick, and a sweatshirt or sweater – it was very dry, and I spent much of my time desperately thirsty despite the amount of beverages the conference did provide.
On the way home from Indiana, Rena and I stopped at a gas station in a town that consisted of two stations and a Dollar General. The bathroom there was the stuff of legends – not only did it have a machine of adult products and a pay-per-weigh scale with flashing lights, but also a cologne machine with seven different options. Sadly, my adventurous sense failed me and I did not sample any. I did, however, by a one dollar bottle of soda, so here’s an additional tip when it comes to gas stations: look for the ones with easy on, easy off from the road, in smaller towns. While some can be very creepy (see: my trip to Florida) many of them are very clean and the prices for things are often cheaper than they are closer to the city. And as an added bonus, they always carry weird stuff ripe for being slipped into stories.
One of the places I didn’t go that I wish I would have is somewhere in Muncie. I was exhausted every night and just went back to the hotel, but hopefully next year I’ll have the time and energy to do at least one activity away from the conference, something that fits the spirit of Muncie 😉
So there you have it, a sample of the places I encountered in my MWW adventure. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s conference review feature: Things!

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