This morning I'm extending a warm hello to all the wonderful women I met last night at the pot luck. Each one welcomed me with open arms and made me feel instantly like a part of their group. (And the food was yummy, too!) We wound up not doing the open mic idea, since there were just enough of us that each could take a turn reading what we'd brought. Besides, I think it would've been a split vote -- each one was terrific, and each one was different.
I did wind up reading an excerpt from the new novel, a piece that my writing partner and I had passed back and forth for revision a number of times, so it was in pretty good shape. They loved it-- gave us (I have to say "us" because even though she wasn't physically there, my writing partner deserves that kudos) a round of applause and lots of praise. Felt really good, of course. I even got some advice regarding cover art for Faking It!
The energy in the room felt like more than just a writer's group, though. It felt like a women's group to me, and I appreciated that. I don't know if that was ever their intention, but from an outsider (and I'm using that term loosely, because I certainly didn't feel like nor was treated as one) looking in, that's what I saw. Maybe it was the rapport that they had w/ each other. Maybe it was the support and encouragement that each offered. Certainly the common goal was to grow as writers; but when that happens, we grow as well. They're growing together. That's very special.
I've been living here for two years as of next week (where did it go?), and I'm finally finding that sense of community that I think we as humans instinctively seek out. And it's not to say that I was lonely or isolated for the last two years -- I knew it would take time, and I was patient. I planted seeds. But they're sprouting now, and I'm delighted.
But I'm also a little scared. I seem to be drifting farther away from academia. Five years ago, I was so gung ho to build a career around that; now, it's becoming a job, and I don't want that -- I don't want it to be just a job, that is. Don't get me wrong, I still love visiting college campuses the way some visit amusement parks. A campus is a comforting place for me. I don't ever want to leave it altogether. But I've got to keep working toward finding the right balance of teaching non-creative writing and being a writer, which is shifting.
And, as far as writing goes, I left last night feeling juiced not only about our novel yet again, but also to stay "aggressive" w/ my creative writing career. I talked a little bit about self-publishing, and when asked what I was going to do about marketing and promotion, I wasn't really satisfied w/ my answer. That's something I need to work on and think about for the next few weeks. Ideas, anyone?
In the meantime, it's back to course prep, and all the good energy from last night carry me through today. With gratitude.