You could broaden that to say I have a love/hate relationship with any in-person human interaction that doesn’t involve naked groping. If more writers’ groups had orgies on their agendas, I’d attend every meeting.
I’m an introvert by nature, so I tend to avoid human interaction like porn stars avoid expired condoms. I wrote romance for many years before my agent
commanded me lovingly advised me to join RomanceWriters of America (RWA). There may have been some kicking and screaming
involved, and not the fun kind.
As it turned out, I was wrong in my assumption that in-person interaction with other writers would be a painful endeavor. I enjoy the camaraderie and knowledge I gain from the monthly gatherings, and I learn something new at each meeting. Sometimes it’s writing techniques or social media strategies, and other times it’s the latest industry gossip. My little brain soaks it up like a sponge (and not the kind you take your pants off to use).
Unfortunately, a large mountain range separates my city of residence from my closest RWA chapter. Making the seven-hour round-trip journey is tiring in summer months, but downright treacherous in winter months when ice turns the roads into cliffside ice skating rinks.
I haven’t made the trip for months, and could feel myself slinking slowly into my introvert cave and gathering large boulders to block the entrance. When an RWA chapter-mate contacted me last week to say her family was vacationing on my side of the mountains and asked if I’d like to get coffee, I had a mixed reaction. I adore this particular author and love both her industry knowledge and her risqué wit.
But did I really want to change out of my pajamas and leave the house?
I decided I did. When I left three hours later, I slammed my head in the car door repeatedly and asked myself, “why the hell don’t you do that more often?”
There’s something about chatting with other authors that rekindles my passion for writing. Even brief conversations leave me quivering with new knowledge and ideas that empower me for my own career.
While it’s true I interact with other writers in online communities and I adore those relationships like a stripper loves nipple tassels that don't chafe, they're not the same thing.
Let’s face it—most authors (myself included) sugarcoat what they post online about publishing decisions, industry interactions, and dollar figures. Authors who don’t want to burn bridges won’t post on Twitter to lament the challenges of working with a particular editor. You won't see many writers taking to Facebook to detail their sales numbers and royalty figures.
But when you meet in person, people are less censored. And when that happens, you get a genuine sharing of knowledge and information that doesn’t happen in online writer communities.
You also get a different sort of camaraderie than you see online. The butt-pats are real instead of virtual, and that right there is worth changing out of your pajamas.
Do you participate in online groups or in-person meetings for your chosen profession (writing or otherwise)? What sort of interaction do you prefer? Please share.
And let me know if you hear of any of those writers’ groups that get naked and grope each other. I’m asking for a friend.