I was browsing the website for our local library (a favorite pastime), when I came upon an announcement for a Writer’s Group meeting. As I am going to attend an upcoming conference in Seattle – with the hopes of putting the first pages of my manuscript ‘out there’, I figured showing it to local writers first was a good idea.
My husband drove me to the meeting – long story, but I do not like to drive on major highways, and the meeting was a good 25 minutes away. The route was rather picturesque. Along the way I thought – not for the first nor tenth time – how the Pacific Northwest provided such an inspiring backdrop. We recently moved from Michigan. While a great place, not always so alive with color and scenery.
I arrived a few minutes early (if you’re not ten minutes early, you’re late) and found myself one of four adults in the group. Along with three youth (maybe ages 10 – 14). I have to admit – I was startled. Not that they wanted to write – kudos to all three – but that I might have to share something of my not-for-the-young work in progress. I write about vampires – and spirits, and things that go bump in the night. Which is fine for young adults, but I also write about s-e-x. Nothing too graphic, but still – I wouldn’t want my Mom reading over my shoulder as I worked on some of the more ‘colorful’ scenes. So – sharing it with such a young audience was too daunting to consider.
Shamefully, I left. I felt like a deer caught in headlights – not sure of what to do. I was already feeling vulnerable (sharing my work with someone other than my family for the first time), so that pushed me a bit too far at that moment.
As we were driving away, the realization of what I had done hit me. Then the guilt (I was raised Catholic, plus I’m a Mom. Double whammy). What message had I sent to the young aspiring writers? Not a good one. I had been selfish, blatantly so. My husband sensed my guilt. He’s good about that sort of thing – and even better about helping me with anything and everything. He turned around. We got stuck in a traffic jam due to a truck driver who got carried away and ended up going in the wrong direction (thank goodness, there were no injuries from what we could tell). An hour later, I arrived for the last part of the meeting. Everyone was very nice, funny – and inspiring. Being part of a small group of people who have a common goal – to express (something – fear, love, sadness, hopes, ideas…) is quite an experience. You feel less alone. And writing in a lonely exercise. Well, all your characters keep you company – but it is still lonely.
Happy I ventured back, I am still ashamed I did not stay in the first place. Yes, I did get much needed feedback on the first few pages of my manuscript. More than that, I learned something about myself – and that while writing might be a lonely experience, one does not have to be alone.