Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Community of Support

By Keith Fisher

When I think of writers, and search my mind for examples, I think of hermits who disappear into a private world, like Thoreau, when he retreated to Walden. I think of mountain cabins, or beach houses that provide shelter, and solitude, while a writer breathes life into their creation.

Writers are people who set themselves apart from their group, while finding ways to document the culture of that group. We are observers, making mental notes, and extrapolating the rest. Yet, we jump at a chance to socialize with other writers.

Something inside us rejoices in talking to others who understand how it feels to take dictation from a character. To lend support and receive the same. If nothing else, to absorb the wisdom of many, who passed this way before.

Last week, I had the opportunity to dine at a restaurant with a large group of writers. I knew many of them, having met at writer’s seminars or workshops somewhere. The gathering caused me to reflect on my first writers’ conference.

I’d been laboring alone, kind of, sort of, like Thoreau. Alone, but full of mistakes and rejections. One of the editors had written a personal note, recommending I look into a workshop or conference. It took three years, and reading a book by Sol Stein, to convince me.

Stein talked about writers’ boot camps. (I think the idea originated with him). Anyway, while searching for publishers on the Internet, I found the LDStorymakers. They were holding a writer’s conference and doing a boot camp that year, so I signed up.

To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. I’d read a lot of the material before. I hadn’t applied it, but I’d read it. The things that overwhelmed me, were the friendly camaraderie, the networking possibilities, and the sheer numbers of people with the same dreams as mine.

I came away from that conference with dozens of friendships I cherish today. Also, I became a member of Authors Incognito, an online support group of conference attendees. From which, other groups have sprung, including this blog group.

Much of my success as a writer has come, because of that first conference. I know other conferences would’ve been helpful too, but at Storymakers, I attended classes that increased my personal faith. Not many writers’ conferences end with a closing prayer.

There will be another LDStorymakers conference this year. It’s slated for April 23 & 24. I think there are still openings. Also, the first chapter contest deadline is March first, you have to attend the conference to enter, but look into it. I look forward to making more writer friends.

I still enjoy my romantic notion of a private secluded cabin by a lake, but I love my writing community, too. Having the whole gang over for a retreat once a year would make the dream complete.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.


L.T. Elliot said...

I loved Storymakers. Last year was the first time I've been but I won't miss it this year!

I feel the same way about our writing community. It's a great place and the support is overwhelming.

Jaime Theler said...

The Storymakers conference is one of the highlights of my year! The energy of a room full of people like you just can't be duplicated. It was good to see you at the dinner last week, too, even if we were clear at the end. :)