Writing is a solitary pursuit. It can be lonely and isolating. And although family and friends are supportive, unless they are writers themselves, they don’t understand the pull, commitment, frustrations and joys that writing brings. This is why the internet has been such a wonderful thing for writers. Online writing groups and communities, and of course, social media, has allowed writers to connect with likeminded souls. Those who understand the elation that finishing a sentence, chapter, or story brings. And those who understand the insecurities, and the self-doubt that often creeps into our writing minds. For those in rural or regional areas, being able to connect online is often the only opportunity they may have.
However, as wonderful as online connections are, there is nothing more powerful than the face-to-face connection of meeting other writers.
Being in a regional area, and with often inflexible family commitments, I don’t often get the chance to be involved in writing festivals, workshops or events. So, when the stars align and I can actually get to something, I relish the opportunity.
This year has been full of such great and rare opportunities for me. Earlier this year, I took part in Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass, which was in a word – brilliant! And yesterday, I was able to attend another event, which also brought a couple of wonderful surprises.
I attended a storytelling workshop run by none other than Jenn J McLeod. I have been a long time fan of Jenn, ever since reading her debut novel ‘A House For All Seasons’. Since then I have read all her releases (and loved them) and
stalked followed her closely on social media. So, yesterday it was such a pleasure to meet her in person.
She greeted me with a huge smile and a warm hug, and was as genuine and friendly as she is on social media. Her workshop was informative, interesting, and stepped a little outside the box – which was the best part. She shared a plethora of information on storytelling and character, my head exploding with excitement by the end. Workshops and author talks are so very inspiring. They help you remember why you love writing.
Another great surprise was meeting another online connection at Jenn’s workshop, fellow writer and blogger at ‘Book Birdy‘ Cassie Hamer. Cassie and I have been friends on Twitter for a while now, as she walked into the room she said to me, ‘I know your face!’ A few moments later we realised the connection, and got to chatting about all things writing. It was so nice to put a real person to the online face. Cassie is doing such wonderful things with her writing. This year she has had great success with her short stories, having a number published, as well as being short-listed in a number of awards. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to connect in person.
And then last night, I attended the ‘Write Around The Murray’ Festival short-story awards (where Cassie was awarded a Highly Commended), and my eleven-year-old daughter won her section of the nano (mini) short story competition. ‘Proud mumma moment’ right there! We hadn’t told her she’d placed, (and in fact I didn’t even know she’d won – only that she’d placed!) so it was a wonderful surprise for us all. Seeing the look on her face when she was announced the winner was one of those moments I’ll never forget.
At the awards, I also met Robyne Young. Robyne is a local writer, journalist, and lecturer and has had many short stories and poems published. Robyne is heavily involved in supporting local writers and sharing the joy of storytelling. Not only was it a pleasure to meet Robyne, but fantastic to make another like-minded connection.
Face-to-face connection is powerful. Even for a shy-introvert like me, meeting other writers is so important ! I think as writers we are very fortunate. I have mentioned before how the Australian writing community is a strong and supportive one. One in which we join to share the lows and celebrate our successes – because we understand, we get it. And what I love about meeting other writers is that they are my people. They get it!
Put me in a room full of strangers and I shrivel into my cocoon. Put me into a room full of writers and I come out of my shell. Because we are all on this journey together – the journey of celebrating story. We have a shared love for storytelling and character. And although we will all see different levels of success, we just love writing – and we love talking about writing.
I know I will be making more of an effort to seek out these face-to-face opportunities. Not only will they bring me great connection and friendship, but they will also make me a better writer.
Writing although solitary, isn’t just about sitting in front of the keyboard. It’s about interacting with the world, observing people and situations, interacting with our environment, and noticing the minute details that others don’t. It’s about connection.
Me & Jenn J McLeod!