I returned from RWA National 2016 with more confidence in my writing. More confidence in myself. Ideas overflowed from notebook pages until my hands cramped and my mind held nothing more. The first evening of orientation, when I cowered in the back row nervous to meet the eyes of my fellow conference goers, I felt I did not belong. I looked across the name tags of authors I knew. Authors who were strangers. All with their own hurtles and publications under the belt.
They spoke of finding a tribe. Finding a group of people to lean on, to speak and collaborate with, to turn to when those plot holes refuse to close. I wondered at the possibility of this. How can I find friends in so little time? Especially those fast and long reaching friends. Even surrounded by those writers with my same ideals, I was alone.
Then came the mingle. “Go,” everyone urged. “Turn to your neighbor and made a connection.”
Yikes. I’d never been one for social interaction. I lacked the tools to break the ice. Lacked the mental fortitude for prolonged conversation. Still, with a smile plastered on my face, I did all of those things and more.
Now I’ve found my tribe.
Despite the distance between us and the difference of our sub genres (who knew Romance came in so many shapes and sizes? Wink!) I know these women will be there when I send a text. Our days of workshops forged a bond so the ribbons connecting us stretch far and wide.
So now I say to you. Find your people. Gather them close and nurture those bonds.
Photograph: Tree Spirits Dancing Trees Igor Zenin