I’ve joined many groups over the years. Some have been paid experiences, some volunteer. Some I joined to chase after boys I liked; others were to get away from boys I did not. Many I joined because a teacher, parent or employer insisted I needed the educational experience. And then there are those few, far and in between that I joined…well, just for me.
One of those came when I majored in theatre in college. Acting was my dream, and I was determined to join the theatre crowd with all the passion in my young heart. And I did.
I once acted in a play that was entirely improvised every night for a new crowd of ticket holders. I stood in the wings, quaking with fear, and sang songs to calm myself. That’s how I discovered and accepted a profound truth–I was much more comfortable behind a stage than on it. I achieved more personal satisfaction (and a better grade) after I wrote a play about a young man who discovered he had AIDS. I should have known then that writing was the path for me.
But I didn’t.
It would take many years and a few unsatisfying job experiences before I would have the courage to admit to myself and those around me that I held a deep, inner desire to express myself in writing. And not just any writing–romance novels, where relationships between a hero and heroine take center stage, and I, the author, can stay hidden within the pages.
Match meet heaven
In April, I had another one of those life-altering moments. I joined a writer’s group and attended their monthly meetings. I didn’t expect much from the experience–perhaps my theatre days had hardened me to other artists. But from the moment I walked through the door of my first meeting, the unexpected happened. I felt a tingling, and the tingling spread. As I talked to writers at different stages in their careers, creative sparks appeared, first here and then there. This one is self-published and has advice on cover artists and promotion. That one is a former English teacher with a talent for developing other writers and willing to share her vast knowledge. This one dreams of plots at night and has advice for my next scene. That one is releasing her tenth book with her fifth publisher and warns me of who to avoid. Whatever stage I’m in, whatever questions I have, there is someone in the group with the knowledge I need to improve my writing and pursue my dream. They welcome me with open arms, bolster my inner critic and recharge my creative juices.
Like that final piece in the puzzle, I fit perfectly.
No naughty girls
Saturday was the annual holiday party at Punderson Manor. We dined, exchanged gifts, passed out awards and honors, and generously shared advice and words of encouragement with one another. No cutthroat competitors and bah humbuggers in this audience. In the true spirit of Christmas, I am given a generous dose of literary cheer to put in my writer’s stocking. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. Enough to last well into the new year–or at least until that next rejection.