An introvert walks into a bar. And walks out.

Quest2015

Bonus theme: Your Best Pack

Visionary: Scott Dinsmore

Prompt: Do the people around you inspire possibility? If not, it’s time to 
make some changes. The fastest way to do the things you don’t think can 
be done is to hang around people already doing them. In 2015, what changes will you make accordingly?

I’m fortunate to have a family that’s supportive of my writing, even when they don’t entirely understand why I talk to people who live inside my head. I’ve got friends, too, who are supportive, or who at the very least smile and nod in supportive fashion.

This is not a game show. Nobody’s going to get fired or kicked off the island. For me, this prompt doesn’t so much inspire me to pare back, as many of them have done, but rather to add.

I think I need to hang around with more writers.

Mind you, this is easier said than done. I’m talking about writers here. While you will find among us the rare fluke who’s bubbly and extroverted, who sails through a crowded room of strangers with ease, a heck of a lot of us are not only rather curmudgeonly but also somewhat perversely proud of it.

I love people. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t. But being around people–or rather, around quantities of people I don’t know well–sucks the life out of me. Maybe this is why I’m one of those thirtysomething women who found the Twilight books disturbing rather than sexy. I’ve got enough real stuff trying to suck the life out of me without adding some sparkly fictional two-hundred-year-old teenager into the mix.

So it’s really pushing the boundaries of my comfort to realize–and to articulate–that my answer to this prompt is to do exactly the opposite of what I’m naturally inclined to do. I need to get out more.

And not just out, but out with writers. I need to start engaging more in the larger writing community.

In a nearby city, there’s a local writers’ group. I’ve been to readings a couple of times, and I’ve been horribly, horribly intimidated. It’s not that these people are three-headed monsters or literary snobs or anything. It’s that I don’t know them. And that is horrifying. 

There’s also the Virginia Festival of the Book, also not too far away. I need to go. I went once, a couple of years ago, and had an amazing experience, but life and inertia and introversion have prevented me from attending since, despite the fact that the one I attended was exactly the kick in the seat of the pants that I needed at the time.

There are conferences, too. I need to check those out. Probably. This is even scarier to me than sparkly teenage vampires. I’ve done the conference thing before, back in my medieval studies days, so you’d think it wouldn’t freak me out quite so much. Sadly, you would be wrong. Also, there is the matter of money. You have to have it, generally speaking, for this whole conference thing.

Then there are all the amazing online communities of writers. I struggle with these, too, largely because of my tendency to get sucked into the interwebs, to go down rabbit holes from which I never emerge (or from which I emerge, dazed and confused, after having eating the wrong sides of mushrooms and taken tea with Mad Hatters, etc.).

I think I need a battle plan. And it needs to start with prioritizing. Maybe with those lists of “pros” and “cons” or something.

Most of all, I need to not overwhelm myself. I need to start small. Maybe a goal for each month. This month I will go to the writers’ group. The next I will get caught up with SCBWI online. In March, I will attend the Festival of the Book. Etc. Maybe I will give myself permission to pshaw literary conferences for a while longer. Maybe I will have the grace to tell myself, “Hey, crazy girl, you don’t have to do everything.”

It’s scary to think about writing this stuff down. In my world, writing is creating–putting something into words means speaking it into being. If I write it down, then I’ll feel obligated to actually follow through, dangit.

Sigh.

I’m at a point in my life, in my minimalist quest, at which I don’t want to add anything. I love the serene, stark simplicity of taking things away. I’m trying to remind myself that one of the reasons for clearing out space is to make room for the new, not just to ditch the old.

So I’m going to make an effort. I’m going to come up with some concrete steps I can take to hang out more with other writers.

While I’m at it, I think I need to hang out with more creative types in general. Quest2015 has given me a tantalizing sense of how many wild and brilliant souls there are out there, making art and meaning, forging beauty from shards of light and darkness. It’s been an amazing pack to run with. If the Quest has taught me anything, it is this–that in community, art only gets better.

Thanks, fellow Questers. And thanks to everyone who has made the time in their busy lives to read and/or comment here over the past couple of years. The gift of your time and attention is one for which I’m deeply thankful.

Here’s to an excellent 2015! May it be filled with wonder and light.