When I was finally brave enough to tell people I was a writer, I was worried I would be confronted by those who thought I was a fraud. After all, I had not published anything (yet) and had no idea how I would really start to work on “the book.” But I knew if I wanted to learn and become stronger in my creative endeavors, I had to make connections with others who were pursuing similar goals.
I first found friends in the My 500 Words online community. Together, we shared our struggles and successes as we strengthened our daily writing habits. Although I loved having peer support and interactions with other writers, after a year I felt the group was not really pushing me or challenging me to move in a direction I needed if I was going to really get serious about “the book.”
You see, I set a goal for myself at the start of 2016 that this would be the year I start actually writing “the book” – the one I have been talking about writing for four years. I plotted and planned for how I would make time in my daily routine to maintain my blog and produce 3 -5 pages per day.
Then I broke my leg and spent a month in hospitals, and had to adjust to a new way of accomplishing all my daily tasks. I prepared myself to put my writing dreams on hold, rationalizing my need for rehabilitation would need to take priority.
I don’t remember who reached out to me first about WEBHER. It might have been Tonia, but then again it could have been Roslynn. The details of events from late January are still a bit fuzzy because I was not able to write every day and for me, the act of writing down the details helps specifics take root in my permanent memory. The invitation went something like this:
We know you aren’t really focused on writing right now. But when you are ready to write again, we’d like to you to consider joining a Facebook group for women writers.
I read more about the group, a small networking group exclusively for women authors, designed to promote a positive and safe environment in which to read and review each other’s work. It sounded like it was just what I needed, and I began to think I might not have to postpone my writing dreams just yet. I sent back a thank you response with assurances I would be let them know when I was ready to write.
A month later, I realized I missed writing. I was struggling to process all the change in my life and knew I needed to get back to my daily habit of spending time organizing my thoughts into words. I also felt I was ready to become accountable to another group, so I asked if the invitation to WEBHER was still open.
The WEBHER-istas welcomed me with open arms, quickly becoming some of my most encouraging supporters as I progressed through rehabilitation and the return to pre-injury activities. They responded with enthusiasm when I reached milestones. They sent emails and messages asking about my progress. They commented on my blog posts, giving me ideas for future writing.
I have always known peer support was important in helping me develop as a professional, disabled woman. I had hoped to find a peer network of writers in which to grow and further my writing dreams. The WEBHER-istas have become that network. I know when I share my work, I will get honest and constructive feedback. If I have missed a mistake in editing, someone will kindly bring it to my attention – not to make me feel bad for making a mistake, but because they know I would want to fix it. When I share good news posts, they rejoice with me. When I am quiet for an extended time, someone will send me a note asking how things have been.
Thank you to my WEBHER-ista sisters. I admire your talents and your creativity. I appreciate you accepting me into your group and nurturing my writing dreams. Each time I read one of your comments I know I will learn more about you and, just as important, something new about myself. There have been many obstacles this year, but this network has made it possible for me to fulfill a goal. I promise to keep you updated on “the book” – a work I have finally started thanks to your faith and optimism.