No one has every accused me of being loud and obnoxious. On the Myers-Briggs personality scale, I'm so solidly introverted it's not funny. Sure, I can push past my nature when necessary--I seem to pick careers (social work and human resources) that require a high amount of extroverted behavior and have done well at them. However, I have to work hard at being outgoing in those situations. If left to my own devices, I prefer to play the role of observer in large social gatherings. Now, with people I know, it's different--then I never shut up. But when I'm surrounded by strangers, I play my cards close to my vest.
So with my shy girl status, I have tended in the past to not be a "joiner". Clubs in high school and social organizations/sororities in college were just not my thing. I stuck with my small group of friends and was happy with that. But now that I've entered the writing world, I've found myself faced again with the decision to join or not to join.
I am lucky enough to live in Dallas, which has a very healthy community of writers. There are groups abound, chock full of both published and unpublished authors. Up until now, I haven't taken advantage of these resources. I had a twofold fear:
(1) my general anxiety of walking into a group of strangers who have already established friendships with each other and
(2) going somewhere and calling myself a writer (especially when there are legitimate published authors in the room).
But when I saw the workshops and opportunities that were being offered, I decided I needed to kick my own butt and get over myself. So I joined my local RWA chapter--the North Texas Romance Writers of America--and this weekend I attended my first meeting.
And I am so glad I did. Yes, I was nervous and a bit intimidated walking in, but everyone was super nice and made me feel very welcome. No one asked if I was published or not, just "What do you write?" And the speaker was member Shelley Bradley, who writes under the pen name Shayla Black. (Ironically, she's the author of those erotic romances I reviewed a few weeks ago. I had no idea she was a local author, lol.) She spoke about the ins and out of book contracts and the publishing process. So helpful. I'll make sure and get my notes together and share some of what I learned on here soon.
So, the verdict's in. If I get out of my own way, there is a great supportive community out there just waiting to embrace fellow writers. I had learned this was the case online, but now I know that it applies to in person groups as well.
Writing is a lonely process and trying to get published is a hard road. Who better to understand than people who are doing the same thing as you are? Put yourself out there. As I discovered first hand, they don't bite.
So what about you guys? Am I the only shy one out there? Do you have in person writing groups? Are you a member of your local genre-related chapter? Do you have trouble calling yourself a writer to others?