I attended the James River Writers Conference for the very first time in 2006. I was just beginning to explore this idea that perhaps I could write something (hesitant to call myself a writer). I was working on my first story (hesitant to call it a novel). Last weekend, nine years later, I attended the conference as a writer who has written two novels and two novellas. I taught a master class, moderated two panels and participated on a third. I was busy preparing to speak and speaking and meeting other authors that I “knew” only in the online world, and so, as often happens in the most significant moments in life, I missed the gravity of this weekend until well after it was over.
As the post-conference quiet settled in and I replayed the memories of the weekend, I found that I also kept getting flashbacks of a nine-years-younger me walking into the same conference full of curiosity and nerves and general uneasiness. I remembered sitting in panels and taking notes and feeling simultaneously amazed and overwhelmed by the depth of knowledge. Nine years later I still have so much to learn, but I am also keenly aware that I have much to share.
Sitting at that first conference I would never have imagined how that first book would turn out (years later it became the idea for Neverending Beginnings), nor would I have any idea that I would embark on a indie publishing journey (was that even a thing in 2006?). If you had told me that I would write a weekly blog that anyone other than my parents and husband would read, that would have seemed like crazy talk. And an article on a USA Today blog– I’m sorry what?, who?, how?
I don’t have any grand answer about how I got from there to here, but my overwhelming sense about it is that is has to do with connections. Connecting with what you are writing. Connecting with readers who love your stories. Connecting with other authors. That’s the journey that started nine years ago and the one that I’m continuing on today.