You love your family and enjoy your time with them, especially grown children and, if you’re lucky, grandchildren. You look forward to time with friends, old and new; after all, who knows you better than a life-long friend? You approach each of these reunions with anticipation, and the time spent together is some of the best. With grandchildren you get the added joy of giving them back, but I digress.
When you’re a writer, there’s nothing quite like spending time in the company of fellow writers. They talk your language; they understand your ups and downs; they have quirky senses of humor. Socializing with other writers makes you a better writer because you’re part of a community stretching back to the first Cro Magnons who drew the story of a hunt on a cave wall.
Yesterday, several of us from an online writing group planned to get together to celebrate our NaNoWriMo success. The group is the Shenandoah Valley Writers, and it’s a great, supportive, eccentric, and talented collection of writers of many genres. The only issue is, because the Valley is such a big place and we come from the head and tail and all throughout it, we rarely get together face-to-face. For the post-NaNoWriMo celebration, we selected a spot close to the mid-point, the long-lived Johnny Appleseed Restaurant in New Market, VA. Trust me, this restaurant, which I’ve been going to for more than forty years, is a legend in the Valley and beyond. It’s worth a drive-by to see the Johnny Appleseed statue.
For me, it’s around forty-five miles away. Not a big trip, except when you’re traveling on I-81 on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. But I’d looked forward to this for more than the month of NaNoWriMo–I’d looked forward to it since our similar get-together from last year! Nothing was going to keep me away, so I navigated the kind of traffic which had compelled me to leave Northern Virginia just so I could spend time with writer friends.
Writers are always going to talk about craft, but when the dinner conversation turns to how to kill someone, or someone missing a family event because they’re in jail, or dragons, you get some interesting looks from the other patrons–to the point where we had to announce, loudly, we were writers. Of course, that’s the fun part about it, and, hey, I’m sure at least one of us will write about that occurrence.
The point, however, is, when you have a great writers community, you’ll do anything, including braving holiday traffic, to have face time with the members. So, when a round-trip drive which normally takes about eighty minutes takes nearly two hours, you know you’ve done it for something important to you. I’m lucky to have two great writing groups–a virtual one and one where we meet face-to-face once a month. The wonderful aspect of a virtual writers group is you can meet and interact with writers from around the world or from right up the road. Consider finding and joining one, virtual or real.
An off-shoot of Shenandoah Valley Writers for the past year is a weekly flash fiction contest called Flash! Friday. This week is the one-year anniversary, or, since we’re writers who make up words sometimes, the Flashversary. To celebrate our community of writers, there is a special contest, with real prizes, including the possibility of being published in an online magazine. I’ve judged this contest several times over the past year, and there are some wicked excellent writers who participate. I even gave up judging so I could submit a story for the Flashversary Contest. For submission guidelines and other information click here, and consider giving us a try.