Image by Cellar Door Films sharing in WANA Commons
‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom’
– Marcel Proust
In November I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Before this weekend I hadn’t even heard of it. On Wednesday, I’m meeting with Laird Sapir of Memphis McKay and Jay Donovan of TechSurgeons, neither of whom I knew of before this weekend, to help me achieve a professional business/author website, something my technically-challenged self has been struggling with for a while. I’ve attended craft lessons from best-selling authors and technology lessons from social-media experts. I’ve started a brilliant new book – Firelands by Piper Bayard, which wasn’t on my radar. I’ve laughed. A lot. I’ve made new friends on Twitter – but most importantly, in real life. I’ve met Kristen Lamb. All of this came from the best last-minute decision I’ve ever made – to sign up for WANACon, a digital worldwide writers’ conference.
My return on investment? More than taken care of in the first half an hour of attending well-structured, easily accessible sessions and meeting the presenters and attendees. Over the last year, I’ve been reevaluating many of my old romantic notions. My previous (and unrealised) imagining of Sara The Writer was someone sitting loftily alone in an attic study, quill in hand, writing beauteous prose and bestowing it upon the world (and the world loved it). Sara The Writer would attend writers’ conferences, but in person and would never have thought to travel to one when not yet published by a big name publisher. Wow, what a turnaround. I’m pre-published, I’ve embraced the digital age and the indie age, and I’ve learnt this last month exactly what WANA stands for – We Are Not Alone.
How amazing how much so many want to share – their time; their wisdom; their support. Writers here aren’t acting as rivals – they are cheering each other on, with words of encouragement from their own experience. I think a strong network can be the difference between success and failure. After discovering the ‘WANA Way’ and attending WANACon, I think I’m on the right path.
But before I knew all this, why did I go? It’s because I practise what I preach. I believed in the idea as it was presented to me, so I followed through. It wasn’t just for published authors so being pre-published shouldn’t stop someone. If it had been a physical conference I could have travelled to, I would have. But if it had been a physical conference in the US, I couldn’t have. So being online was a bonus. I went because of posts like this one, from Kristen Lamb’s blog – Doubt, Fear, False Alarms & “Giving Birth” To Our Dreams. I lost sight of my dreams and have piles of unfinished masterpieces lying around. At least I started writing again. Now, I’m actually going to finish something! And I’m going to do it surrounded by inspirational people actively motivating me to do so.
Do you feel alone? I’m not just talking to writers, but everyone, whatever it is you do. Don’t be an island. There is so much more joy and comfort in joining up with people who have the same loves and the same struggles. With the wonder of the internet, we can now connect with such people, even if they’re nowhere to be found nearby. We can all help each other. We are not alone.