Last year, my husband suggested we take a backpacking trip to Havasupi, Arizona. We backpack regularly so it wasn't at all odd for Jason to suggest this. However, Havasupi Falls has been a trip we have fantasized about doing together since we met. Every year for fourteen years, we have planned on going, but every year, something has come up that has prevented it. Well last year, we finally committed. Besides breathtaking scenery and more people than I've ever experienced on a desert backpacking trip, I met the fantastic Amy J. (Via, my awesome friend Kim G.) Amy is an artist. And one of the coolest people I know. Which is saying something because I know a lot of cool people.
We engaged if a fabulous conversation about art and creative expression and before I knew it, I was confessing that I wanted to be a writer. I had written my entire life but never had the courage to pursue it as a possible career. I was a closet writer. The kind that scribbled away furiously but kept it a well guarded secret. Amy, has a measured calm about her that made me feel incredibly comfortable. Before I knew what I was doing, I laid it all out. I confessed that I really wanted to be a writer. It was all I ever wanted. And I meant it.
She suggested that what I needed was a community. You know, a group of like minded individuals who are actively engaged in writing as a creative expression. I brushed it off. I mean, she had to be crazy to think that I could actually talk to other writers. I wasn't a real writer after all. I was just scribbling.
I couldn't get her words out of my head. The entire trip. They rattled around in my brain. I needed a community. A community of writers in Utah? Was there such a thing? The day after I got home. I googled Utah writing communities. But I misspelled community and had several hits for Utah writing conferences. One in particular caught my attention. The BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. My heart thumped a million miles an hour. I felt so amazing, it terrified me. So, I called my husband. This is what a do whenever something scares me. He's on speed dial. It happens a lot.
He told me before I talked myself out of it to go online that very minute and sign up. So I did. But when I registered, they asked me which writer I wanted to study under. I had no idea. I didn't recognize any of the names. So I closed my eyes and picked one. Okay, I picked the one that looked the least scary. Janette Rallison.
That was it. I signed up for my first conference. For three months I didn't sleep. I was terrified. What had I done? Was I crazy? I won't tell you how many times I tried to back out. I actually called the registration office twice. The line was busy. But when I prayed and contemplated it. I knew it was exactly what I ought to do. It was the right path for me to follow. I couldn't deny it.
On the first day, I made my way through the auditorium, alone and terrified. Did I have what it took to be a writer?
With a prayer in my heart, that everything would be alright, I picked an aisle and walked toward the center. Two pretty women were sitting there. One of them had her bag open. I noticed a bundle of markers that were required for the writing class. I commented on it. She smiled and commented back. They were sisters, both in miraculously in my critique group. More miracles happened throughout that week than I feel comfortable sharing now. But I can tell you that I met an amazing group of friends that feel for one reason or another that we were led to that workshop. I was exactly where I needed to be. I found my home! I found my community.
So much has happened in my life since I went on that backpacking trip, misspelled community, randomly picked a writer on a website, slid into an open aisle next to a girl with an open bag of markers. We all have stories on how we find ourselves in a place we weren't expecting. Sometimes the paths we choose, no matter how small, can in fact make all the difference.