Monday, January 23, 2006

The Girl Who Wasn't a "Joiner"

I really can’t stress enough how important it has been for me to find friends with whom I can talk about the business of writing. Friends I know who understand the joy, the fear, and the need to write because they live it, too. Friends whom I can turn to at anytime and ask, “What would you think if I tried this?” And I know they’ll give me their honest opinions—good or bad. Friends that I look at and wonder where they’ve been all my life so well do we fit together.

But I've got to tell you--it wasn’t as if I was just strolling down the street or sipping café mocha in a coffee house when I met them. Sigh. Nope, things just don’t come to me that easily. Wouldn’t it be nice if they did?

Hmm…now that I think about it, that’s a tough question. Life would be easier, yes, but would I grow as a human and a writer if I didn’t have to work at it? Probably not. Just catching a few, sickening moments of those spoiled rich kid reality shows tells me nobody should have it easy.

Oh, and before I forget, there’s something else you should know about me—I’ve never been a “joiner." But if I wanted to become a professional in this business, then I needed to move past the recluse stage into which I'd cornered myself and go out there into the scary unknown. So, one day I made a momentous decision: I forced myself to step outside the comfort zone of my house and join a writers’ group where I’d mingle with other writers and possibly learn more about the publishing business.

It wasn’t until I’d taken that step that I discovered a support system I never knew existed and met those friends that I mentioned above.

From the time I walked through the doors and into the first meeting, I’ve felt the good vibes envelop me. It put a spring in my step that I didn't realize had been missing. And that spring is still there almost two years later! The published writers offer advice and encouragement to the unpublished, the unpublished encourage one another, the published encourage each other, and every goal accomplished—no matter how tiny--is celebrated. It was and still is this atmosphere that reenergizes me every time I attend a meeting. This is where I belong.

Never once have I looked back and wished I’d just stayed home. Instead, I push myself even more and jump in to volunteer and become better acquainted with the members and speakers. I want to help spur and energize other writers, as well.

In becoming more involved, I’ve also met such AMAZING people! I count myself lucky that they're now my friends with whom I feel as if I’ve known my entire life. I never realized how much I needed them—and I certainly hope I have something to offer them, as well.

So, if you haven’t already tried it, think about joining a great writers group. I think you’ll be surprised where it’ll lead you. I am. As my confidence and my writing and people skills expand, I scarcely remember the girl who was not a “joiner.” I love what I’m becoming and I know I’m moving in the right direction.

Is there anything that you've done that seemed scary at first but turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to you? Tell me, tell me!

Michele Cwiertny