I’ve been looking around for local writer groups in my area to meet “IRL.” I have some social media connections, but I recognize that I also have to have ‘real people’ connections to create a true sense of community as a writer.
I was supposed to have some ‘real people’ connections at a writer’s meeting last night. I planned it for weeks. It was in my calendar, all highlighted and everything. I made sure my family knew that I would be unavailable for any events or responsibilities at that time.
As the day approached, I grew more and more anxious for the obvious social reasons – what if they didn’t like me? What if I don’t fit in? Even after decades of dealing with people, my shyness still creeps in like a buzzard, alighting in the corner of my mind, ready to feast on the corpse of my self-esteem. I guess I need to deal with people more.
So yesterday I drove down to the library where the meeting was being held. The room was small, with a large, dark mahogany conference table that filled it completely. The chairs were matching dark wood, and there was barely enough room to get by when they were pulled out from the table. The whole ambiance was one of confinement, conservatism and exclusivity.
I took one look at the group and turned tail and fled. I was terrified. I couldn’t see myself fitting in with this group of confident, seemingly close-knit people. All of them were older and looked much wiser – one woman was so daunting in her salmon sweater and Oxford shirt with her glasses dangling around her neck that I completely lost all confidence. I was so new, so inexperienced in my writing ability. She clearly had years of experience, and it lay before her in a pile of papers and binders at least three inches thick.
But, I know that just because this group didn’t work out, doesn’t mean there aren’t others out there. It’s important to keep your head up and keep on keeping on. Even though I was intimidated as heck by this group, I went to another group a couple weeks ago and they were great. I just need to keep looking for more opportunities. If I keep looking, if I keep at it, I’m sure I’ll find other people like me.
To have a friend, you have to be a friend. To have a community, you have to be part of a community. I need to go where the community is already working and be a part of it. Mingle, be a part of things. Then I can take that back and use it in my writing. Then take my writing and bring it back to the community. It’s symbiotic.
But it takes work. It takes getting out of the house, away from the computer, putting down the phone and actually engaging with people, something I find very hard to do. So I have to stretch myself. Because, above all, I want to be a better writer. And if this is what it takes to get there, so be it. Anybody wanna hang out?