Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quieting My Inner Doubt & Grabbing Life By The Horns [What I Learned at Write! Canada]

I approached the whole idea of a writer's conference with a kind of fear that made my heart pound and my digestive track revolt.  I thought myself a painfully shy, socially handicapped, positively uninteresting being who stumbled over being vocally eloquent or remotely intelligent.  I was actually ashamed to call myself a writer.  (Well, I mean, I kind of like to write, it doesn't really mean anything - like, I don't get paid or anything and I don't know if anybody reads it and I certainly know that you don't care and I'm just boring you with this so-far-from-witty-repartee that has nothing to do with anything you're interested in so I'll just tell you that I work in graphic design because that's much more acceptable in your eyes...)  And for what?  What gain is there in denying the very essence of my core?

So I entered this community.  

And I felt like I was home.  

And, at the risk of sounding like a sentimental cheese-ball, I have never felt more myself than when I stood with this crowd of people who were so closely JUST.LIKE.I.WAS. and who allowed me to be wholly, without apology, one hundred percent, wearing my dreams on my sleeve, ME.

I was empowered and affirmed and felt like I was suddenly surrounded by a tribe of people who wished me every single success I have always wished for. 

When I took my seat across from an honest-to-goodness literary agent (who happened to be an honest-to-goodness cowboy!) - after shaking his hand with a strong, non-sweaty grip, introducing myself like I owned who I was - I asked him my most pressing question: how can I make myself most appealing to an agent or publisher?  "Well, Ma'am," he said, southern drawl warming up the air, his grey handlebar mustache hanging over his upper lip, hair flattened by the cowboy hat that rested politely beside him, "I must say, you've already made yourself quite attractive!"  Of course, it went on from there into practicalities and realities and how to write a query that mattered but I spent the whole time marveling that I, socially handicapped little me, could actually make a good impression.  "It's like a dance.  It's like a marriage.  If I like you and you like me, we're a match made in heaven and I'll work hard for you."

People were actually seeking me out to praise my work and encourage me into a successful future.  One woman - a published author, thin fingers resting on my shoulder as we stood in a doorway, told me in a gentle voice how moved she was by the piece I read - how my truth had stirred her - how humbling is that???

My body aches after hours of sitting in classes and workshops, after hours of little activity beyond the frantic scribbling over page after page of notes, after little sleep and so much laughing.  I believe I have started friendships that will span across years and provinces.  I believe that I have purpose.  I believe that it is not all for not.

I am a strong & confident woman.  
I am a writer!  
May my keyboard ever roar!


9 comments :

  1. Alanna, this is a perfect post. Ten years ago, I, too, had that sit up and look around in wonder that "these people actually understand how I think" moment.

    I'm so glad you had a great time. Keep writing from the heart, this is beautiful.

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  2. Absolutely incredible. And you say you're NOT a writer - or didn't perceive of yourself as one before the conference? Your way with words, your way of describing things, it's like the post I feel like writing but haven't been able to describe these incredible feelings. And so I end this comment with the command we were given at the end by the last keynote speaker: Go Forth ... And Write!

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  3. Allana, I didn't get to the conference this year, so I missed the chance to meet you, but I know exactly what you mean. When I first stepped onto the Write! Canada conference grounds among all these strangers, I felt like I belonged. For the first time ever, at that deep level. (I still get nervous in the agent/editor meetings, so you're already way ahead of me). I'm so glad you took courage to attend, and I pray for you as you own your "writerhood".

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  4. You are all so incredibly sweet. This is exactly what I was talking about...people who understand me!!!! Awww, joy!

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  5. This is a wonderful post, Alanna. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet this year, but you clearly felt the love and support that is W!C and The Word Guild. Thank you for sharing your heart and your beautiful words.

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  6. Thanks for stopping by Ann and for taking the time to comment. The encouragement means a lot. I feel so lucky to have made such great connections!

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  7. Alanna - You are a great writer. Thanks for saying exactly what I felt at this conference - Welcome home. Hope to meet you next year and I joyfully subscribed to your great blog.

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  8. Thanks so much, Jenny - sorry we didn't get a chance to meet. I'm honored that you have subscribed and hope you enjoy your time hanging around my little corner of the web :)

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  9. This is absolutely, positively (at the risk of using too many adjectives) wonderful. Welcome to the Write! Canada family, Alanna. So glad you're here.

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