Writing friends

Originally posted Feb. 26, 2009

I am used to meeting perfect strangers, to learning the intimate details of their lives within the first 30 minutes of conversation.
I’ve made a career out of it.
But as I drove to Panera Monday night to meet yet another person I’d never seen before, my hands suddenly froze on the wheel.
This wasn’t the same thing.
This wasn’t an interview.
I was meeting a fellow writer with whom I had connected online. We didn’t even know what we would talk about. Neither of us has writing friends in the area. We thought it would be nice to get together and to, maybe, form a writing group.
I had never been in this situation before.I felt socially inept.
I forced my fear down my throat with the greater fear that I would crash if I kept focusing on the issue. I parked and grabbed a book from my van. If things got really awkward, I figured, I would always have my book.
I had just sat down with my coffee when she walked in.More than two hours later, when we got up to leave, an employee had to unlock the doors to let us out. My cell phone rang. My husband was worried because Panera was supposed to close an hour earlier.
Conversation just happened and I realized on my way home how much I crave that interaction with other writers. Just last week, Susan Heim, an award-winning author and fellow mother of twins, agreed to write the foreword for my book. I was anxious and excited to tell someone.I told my husband, a former journalist and an author.
He shared my excitement. I told my sister, who has let me lean on her throughout this process even when she probably had much better things to do.
She was thrilled. But I couldn’t think of anyone else who would understand what this meant to me.
So I told the woman I met in Panara, a writer of young adult fiction whose first novel is in the hands of an editor at Harper Collins. She understood, really understood.
And that felt good.

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