I went to a writer’s symposium today. Despite being exhausted (this follows two grueling days of workshops on child sexual abuse and other things I’d prefer to remain naively ignorant about), this workshop was just what I needed. Being around other writers (and what colorful characters we are!) is so affirming. Hearing pens frantically scratching across yellow legal pads as we thrash through the mental cobwebs to enter the mysterious, and always miraculous, cave of verbal wonders; being applauded for something you scribbled in a 10-minute sprint and told you have to “keep going with that… I’d read it,” is music to the ego and adrenaline to the muse. You feel a part of something; something real, something worthwhile. You might even consider claiming to be a… a… Writer (whoa, slow down there, Nellie!)
Let me throw a little bit of serendipity in here.
I found out about this workshop from a writer whom I contacted through http://www.pw.org/. I was hoping to find a writer’s group nearby. I found the name of a woman who lives 20 miles from me. While reading her bio I discovered, amazingly, that she grew up in a town within miles of where we lived in Mississippi. She wrote a friendly, helpful email telling of her publications and current works-in-progress. She also suggested I contact a certain gentleman about a workshop being held the next weekend. It turns out that this very gentlemen and my father just happen to belong to a mutual admiration society, so I was able to [maiden] name drop and register for the workshop just a day before it was held.
Now I have contacts. I will be joining the local writer’s guild. I will have people to hold me accountable, who will (hopefully) offer positive feedback and constructive criticism, and who, most importantly, will make me feel I belong. To a “club” of like-minded people, who understand the unbounded beauty of a blank book and a fountain pen, and to whom the ideal day is one spent wringing out words and pegging up phrases.
To paraphrase one of our presenters today, Joni B. Cole, writing may be a lone effort but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.