Friday, May 14, 2010

Writerly Bonding

I've pretty much been absent from the Internet for about two days or so.

(I returned to 300 some-odd e-mails and nearly 500 blog posts in my reader. I've emptied the in-box for the most part, but I may just mark the blogs as read. I love the blogs I follow, but 500? Ain't happening, folks.)

I was offline for a very good reason: Heather B. Moore, K. C. Grant, and I were invited to speak at the Utah Library Association annual conference in St. George.

We were part of their annual break-out session called "LDS Fiction Extravaganza," which sounded really cool and made me feel important, reality notwithstanding. We were asked to talk about our publishing journeys and then a bit about what we see as the changes and future in the LDS Market.

I've covered my publishing history pretty well in my Writing Journey series, and throughout several posts, I've made some references to how things are changing and will change in the market, but I should probably put them together into one post and elaborate on them.

Thursday's presentation went really well (even if my laptop battery died midway), and we had a great book signing afterward.

HOWEVER, the point of this post is something else: the power of being around people like you.

In my terms, that means:

Writers are weird, we get one another, and that's a good thing.

Heather and I have been friends for many years. We've been part of the same critique group for something like seven years (maybe more? I've lost track). We've been part of one another's successes and rejections. We've seen each other's rough drafts, brainstormed together, chaired a conference together, shared hotel rooms, and more.

It's pretty safe to say she knows me well and we get along GREAT.

Heather and I drove down to St. George together. We spent two days and a night with K. C. (Kim) Grant, a fellow Covenant author. Heather and I did not know her. She and Heather had a few e-mail conversations prior to the conference, but the most contact I'd had with her was in passing, literally not much more than, "Nice to meet you. You look like your picture! Bye!"

Wednesday evening, Heather had a book signing at the Costco near St. George. Kim and I hung out together. I assumed we'd sit quietly watching TV or reading books. Maybe I'd get out some editing work or draft on my laptop.

Instead, Kim and I talked and talked and talked. There was absolutely no shortage of topics. We laughed (rather long and hard at times). We shared writing and publishing experiences. We giggled. We ate snacks. We even ended up with an inside joke or two (and a code word!) along the way.

That doesn't happen with people you just met.

Does it?

Kim's a great person no matter how you look at it, but I honestly think the reason we clicked so well is the simple fact that we shared a foundation: we're both writers.

We could refer to writer stuff without having to explain the background, what it means, how it feels, and so on. We could drop goofy things and not worry that someone will think we're bizarre because we mention characters talking in our heads.

We get each other in a way others simply can't.

By the time Heather and I left for home Thursday evening, I felt like we'd known Kim for months or years rather than a mere 24 hours or so.

It reminded me of the military wives who were my resources for Band of Sisters. They've said that hanging out together was always a relief: All of them understood the hundreds of things no one had to mention. They didn't have to explain acronyms or military terms. A single phrase was enough to get certain ideas across . . . because all of them were there.

I believe that every life experience and passion is similar. Whether your passion is music, theater, reading, photography, quilting, canning, martial arts, crocheting, or something else entirely (oh, like blogging), others who share that interest and passion will get you.

In a sense, it's like Dr. Paul said in the podcast I did with him: we all need to find our "tribe."

(By the way, to listen to the podcast, CLICK HERE. It's about 50 minutes long. I learned a ton just from listening to Dr. Paul . . . he even made me look smart at times. I had a great time talking about my writing and the steps I took to get to where I am.)

Next week, I'll post about today's adventure: my fourth and most insane field trip to the zoo.

A direct quote from the day:

"Come on, boys. We aren't here to look at mustard."


* said...

"We all need to find our tribe." So true. Nothing like bonding over writing, books, & snacks. :)

Sounds like a fine conference, too. {Library conferences rock!}

Happy weekend & catching up!!

LisAway said...

That's the thing about the zoo. The kids always stop too long to check out the mustard. :)

That's a really neat bond to have with people you don't even know. Of course I have experienced it (twice) with people that I just totally hit it off with in the first half an hour and, despite only living near them for a few months or a year ten or 12 years ago I still consider both of them very, very good friends.

I think motherhood may be the broadest tribe. There is always at least some level of understanding in that one. I love it.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

You put that writerly bond feeling into words so perfectly Annette. Personally, I love slowly becoming a part of that tribe as my own writing journey progresses. Thanks for being one of my welcomers. I'm so grateful to you.

Krista said...

I look forward to my weekly writing group so much for these reasons. It's probably why I check in on Twitter so often, too.
I love my life and the people (big and little) who surround me every day, but the writer thing? Sometimes I need to be understood.
Thanks for being part of the weirdos who just might get me. Lovely, lovely post, Annette.

Lara Neves said...

So very true. There is a major bond in having something big like that in common. I've never considered myself someone who makes friends really easily, and so when I experience that bonding immediately, it's very meaningful.

Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

You were in St. George and you didn't tell me!? I'm going to have to boycott you!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I remember the first time I felt like that among writers. It was the most bizare, wonderful thing--just knowing someone else got me.

Love the quote from the zoo. ;)


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