This is my first time participating in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group First Wednesday. This is when we release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up!
My kindergarten teacher once described me as “withdrawn” and said I preferred to play by myself. She hoped at some point I would join in to classroom activities. This was cause for concern, and no one said “Hey, maybe this is a baby writer!” No, I was different, strange, odd.
Trying to fit in has never quite stopped. When we moved to a small town a few years ago, I found myself swept up in the friendliness and thinking, “I can be social. I’m sure I can.”
But then my writing languished. One of my friends said, “Oh, I used to write, but since I moved here I don’t have time.” That freaked me out.
She decided to just roll with it, but I couldn’t. Writing steadies me, smooths out the rough edges, brings me joy. I had to make a different decision: to pull back on the social life.
Not every writer is like me. Some are quite gregarious. However, as I made my writing time a priority, I found I could still socialize, just less. If the writing comes first, everything else works out.
On the opposite end of the writing social spectrum is the writing conference. I like to go to one or two a year, and we have several to choose from in our area. One of my favorites is the Chuckanut Writers Conference, which happened this last week. It’s tiring, but fun, informative, and motivating!
I’d like to give a shout-out to faculty members I found particularly inspiring: Steven Galloway, who taught an awesome master class; Elizabeth George, who showed us how to use character development to unlock a story’s potential; and Carol Cassella, who discussed the proper use of research in novels (I’d love to know how she balances her busy life as an anesthesiologist with two sets of twins while writing and researching!). Brian Doyle eviscerated any of our excuses, and William Kenower reminded us to always, always listen deeply to ourselves.
It’s impossible to express in a blog post how these generous authors have impacted me, but I will say this: if you have the opportunity, find a conference you enjoy. This was my second visit to Chuckanut, and I’ve no doubt it will be an annual event for me. We writers are an insecure lot, indeed, and connecting with each other is a way to put a healing balm on that insecurity.
How do you balance work and social life? If you’re a writer, do you go to conferences or have other ways of connecting with writers?