In 2007, I attended my first writers conference. At the American Christian Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, conference coordinator Reg Forder introduced himself and explained that everyone in the room – all of us strangers – had two things in common: no one could walk past a bookstore or office supply store without going inside.
As everyone in the room nodded, I knew I’d found kindred spirits.
There’s just something about a group of people who can (and do) talk about characters as if they were real people, who celebrate the Oxford comma, and who spend an entire meal discussing books and movies with the same passion that some people might discuss current events. Like-minded people – especially those who work in the same industry – understand each other’s struggles and successes. Your family and friends will never understand your passion quite like a room full of strangers. Your network of writers becomes an invaluable support system.
I’ve been attending conferences for the past decade. I’ve met several amazing people, and have developed some lasting friendships, but this year I experienced something I’ve never experienced before. This year I found my people.
It happened at PENCON 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. After various writing conferences (for fiction, non-fiction, and the press), PENCON was my first editor’s conference. While writing and editing are closely related, there’s a fine line separating them. Subtle differences that require specific training and practice. They’re first cousins in the same artistic family tree.
As much as I love writers (I’m a writer myself), something about the editors touched a hidden, unknown place in my heart. Instead of introducing myself to strangers, it felt like meeting up with old friends. Some how we managed to inspire instant trust, form immediate bonds, and develop our own unique family. More than mere kindred spirits, I’d finally found my people.
Why am I sharing this?
Because your people are out there.
If you haven’t found them yet, keep looking. It may take a few tries (it took me two critique groups and more than a dozen writing conferences of various sizes). You don’t have to read or write the same things. You don’t have to be the same age. You don’t even have to be extroverted! Just be yourself. Be honest with each other. Open yourself up. Eventually you’ll find the people who speak to your heart, and those people will become irreplaceable in your professional and personal lives.
Go. Find your people.