At the weekend I attended a writer/blogger networking event.
Throughout my working life I have successfully managed to avoid any kind of networking event. Somehow I always manage to find a convenient excuse.
Because I conform to that stereotypical image of a writer, or more accurately the stereotypical image of what I thought a writer is like. Quiet. Reclusive. Prefers to hold conversations via a keyboard than in person. Maintains the closest and longest relationships with the fictional characters in their head than actual human beings. In essence a loner.
There's just one problem.
It turns out that a writer is absolutely nothing like this. Or if they were, these characteristics were quickly drummed out of them the second they set their sights on the lofty goal of being published.
Being a published author isn't, as I had once so naively thought, just about writing books. It's about so much more. It's about persuading agents and publishers that their book is worthy of their time and investment. It's about networking with passionate book bloggers and reviewers who read phenomenal numbers of books each year. It's about sharing experiences with other writers and learning from them. And of course it's about chatting with their readers via social media and book readings.
The world of a writer is a whole lot bigger and more sociable than I had ever imagined.
Of course, I'm relatively new to this world and I'm just working on the getting published part. I went to the event feeling a little bit like an outsider who didn't really belong among 'proper' writers and bloggers. Then I meet them and I forgot to feel nervous and out of place. I was too busy having fun.
The best part about chatting with writers and bloggers is that they totally get it. That obsessive compulsion to scribble down random notes in the middle of the night. The need to carry around a note book everywhere you go, just in case. The willingness to forgo a night out with the girls to sit alone typing on your laptop. All those things that you just can't talk about with your friends without them glazing over with a look that tells you you're certifiably insane. Writers understand it all, and more besides.
It turns out it's hard to be a loner when you discover there's a whole group of people out there just like you. The trick is simply to find them. I'm so glad that I have.