I recently attended a writers conference. I have wanted to go in previous years, but always found a reason (ie: excuse) why "now" wasn't a good time. I figured if I'm going to do it, do it well. I signed up for the extra night and a pre-conference session. The extra night was to make sure I was there on time and in the right frame of mind to focus on one thing. Life has not been about only one thing at a time, or seemingly about me, for quite awhile.
My anxiety struck up as I got ready to leave that day. I'm almost ready to give her a name as she seems like a nit-picky, perfectionistic version of me I'm trying to get away from. "Why are you going to this BY YOURSELF? YOU don't like to go places where you don't know at LEAST one other person! Do you know how much other life stuff you have going on right now? WHY?"
Why indeed. I slammed the door a bit harder than intended. Set my map app. Turned the radio louder to drown her out and drove away.
I was not alone for long. I found out that weekend was where I was supposed to be for that weekend. I don't think of myself as a writer. I think of myself as a person who likes to write now that I don't "have to". Our name tags listed our name as well as what we had entered on our registration. Mine said "devotionals/blogger". I made the mistake a few times of saying I "just" have a blog. I was reminded and encouraged that nothing is "just". Point taken. Learn to own it. "I am a writer" Take that, anxiety!
I sat with different people over the few days. Some had come alone. Some had come with friends. Many it was first-time attendance. Some had attended numerous years. I sat with an older couple. The wife referred to her husband as her boyfriend. So cute!. They shared they had recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their family. I didn't tell him that he reminded me of my dad. That would have made me cry. I sat with men and women younger and older than me. I listened as they shared why they were attending and some of their stories they were willing to share. I was able to encourage some. Many encouraged me a lot.
I didn't realize until a few meals in that some of the people sitting at our tables were "in the industry" of writing: editors, publishers, authors, agents, presenters of the sessions. I was a bit intimidated when I made that little discovery. Why was I surprised though? They have to eat too! Anxiety snuck up again as I tried to replay conversations in my mind where I might have said something I shouldn't have to someone I shouldn't have.
I learned a lot. The weekend ended. I came home. The feeling to write has nagged me. I made an online Facebook support group because I don't have time right now to meet in person. I "friended" some of the attendees. They "friended" me. Writing is really kind of lonely overall. Sharing what is in my head and heart is kind of overwhelming overall.
How many times have I let what or who I didn't know get in my way? Is what we have written on our name tag as a job or how we would describe ourselves really what matters? It was a Christian writers conference. Would/Do people know that about me without seeing it on a name tag?
I write this to remind me...and you....don't let what you don't know stop you. I was reminded of the verse: