Yesterday, I attended a writer’s workshop alone. I walked into the room of maybe 60 people hoping to see a familiar face from other events I attended. I saw no one I knew, but I also knew I wasn’t alone.
All I needed to do was pick a side of the room to sit on, and I knew I’d find my people there. I am a part of this community of writers. We all have the same dreams of being heard, being remembered, and connecting with others through our love of words. I belonged there.
I sat down around a group of women, and sure enough, we hit it off.
Irene sat to my left. She is a magazine writer and has a home office, which makes it difficult for her to separate her work from her personal writing. While sometimes I wish I worked from home more regularly, I can see the struggle. I, too, needed a new place to write. For the past few years, I’ve written blog posts in the middle of all the action–my dining room table. There was a tv blaring in the background and kids asking me to sign permission slips. As a mom, I needed to be there. As a writer, it was hurting my creativity.
Recently, I turned my daughter’s bedroom into my writing haven. I asked her permission, of course. She is away at college now, and the room sits empty. Now, I have my favorite notebooks and pens on her desk. I moved my writing books and prompt decks onto her bookshelf. If I need a place to sit away from the blank screen, her comfy bean bag chair is in the corner–although lately, it is hard to stand up from that thing. There is no tv in the room to distract me, and most importantly, there is a door to close. It’s a perfect sanctuary for writing.
I talked to Carol during one of the breaks. She is currently writing a book about her bitter divorce that she is still picking up the pieces from. She had a lot of self-doubt that anyone would ever want to read it, and maybe the act of writing it down was just cathartic. She was searching for a writer’s group that would be open to her stories. We talked about a few groups she visited that didn’t work out for her. She said they weren’t supportive enough. So, I suggested the group I attend, which she said she would check it out. She was an intense writer with something to get off her chest. I hope she is heard. I assured her someone is out there who wants to connect with someone and hear a story like hers. They want to know they aren’t alone.
I shared with her my idea for a book, but I also wasn’t sure if it had an audience. When I described the book to her, a woman in front of us turned around and said she knew someone who would love to read my book. She commented on how she had seen nothing like it before—and she had looked. This gave me new encouragement to write the book I’ve been thinking about for so long.
Encouragement. Inspiration. Friendship. These were the three things I took away from the workshop yesterday. Yes, the speakers were terrific, but because writing is a solitary activity, I go to be with the community that continues to lift me up. We have the same dreams and the same fears. We want to be heard but are riddled with self-doubt. I left the workshop feeling inspired and determined to tackle the blank page with courage, confidence, and a new commitment to writing that shitty first draft knowing someday it will turn into something special.