When my life took an unexpected turn late 2016 I realized it was one of those “now or never” times to invest in my passion to write.  I wanted to write more, and learn to write better. One year ago I flew into Orlando and my cousin drove me to Lake Yale for my first Writer’s Conference.

IMG_3488I was nervous, overwhelmed, unsure of what was ahead, and alone. This was a whole new world to me. I knew no one. I did not know the language or the the culture. I jumped into the pre-session which was probably a bit too advanced for me, but there I was – sink or swim! Good thing I enjoy swimming.

As that session ended I met other “newbies”. What a comfort it was to learn their names and find that amidst the larger group that had been together for years, there were others as green as me. Together we navigated the 8 am to 10 pm schedule of sessions, shared insights we heard, figured out terms and made it through our rookie year.

Coming home I felt like I was returning from an alternate reality. Though I was a novice writer I could not find words to express what I had experienced. It took me months to sort through my notes and consider my next steps.

One of my new friends invited me to the St David’s Writers Conference in June. Jerry joined me. Knowing just a little of how things would run and a couple of names enabled me to engage more with the people and material. I found I could begin to filter what I needed to embrace, and what I could let go.

I joined a monthly critique group that shapes and hones my skills.

A year later here I am, back in Florida on the eve of my third Writers’ Conference in one year. Feeling more confident this year I even entered a few submissions for various contests. I am rooming with a friend who is a published author. I am bountifully blessed for these opportunities, for my new writing pals, and for a job that allows me to implement these new skills.

Cheers to the new people I will meet this week, the sessions I will attend and the new things I will learn this week. I look forward to meeting some of this year’s newbies and assuring them that they belong.