Last month, I attended a conference for writers called LTUE: Life the Universe and Everything. It’s a very well-attended symposium for writers of all stages.
I’m not a social persona, and large groups of people terrify me. So the first day, I stayed with my friends, listened to panelists, and most importantly, I didn’t talk to strangers! Day two, I slowly started stepping out of my bubble, but it was painful and terrifying.
Day three, I had a breakthrough.
I went to a panel all on my own, and I sat next to a complete stranger. After some serious inner debating, I decided to start a conversation.
I asked her where she was from. Something simple and nonthreatening. After we chatted a little bit, I took a breath and asked her what she writes. When she told me, I found I was genuinely interested, and we talked about it for a while before she asked what I write.
From there, the conversation became natural, and I didn’t even have to think of what to say. In fact, the conversation was so interesting, the guy on the other side of me joined in. When we started debating plotting vs. pantsing (outlining or writing ‘by the seat of your pants’), two people in front of us turned around to participate.
When the panel started, and we all sat back in our seats, the realization hit me.
These are my people.
When I started to talk about writing, their eyes didn’t glaze over. They didn’t give the timid ‘uh-huh’ while they waited for me to stop talking so they could run away. These people actually cared about what I was saying, and they understood what I was talking about.
When I got home, I excitedly told my husband all about it, asking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was that easy?”
I’ve gone my whole life terrified of speaking to strangers. Of being boring. But it’s not as hard as it looks. All I have to do is say something. Then say something else.