Writing sat by the wayside for me for a very, very long time. Mostly because I didn't feel I was good enough or could ever be good enough. I was trying to push it through by getting a 2nd bachelor's in writing (finished in 2013), and that helped reawaken things. But it was really in the last 2 years that a few things happened that made it kind of explode.
1. I had been semi-dabbling in trying to get some writing things going. In doing so, I tried to get some local writing/critique groups going (they all failed very quickly), and I began to look into conferences and other resources within driving distance.
2. While looking at conferences, I joined the LDStorymakers Conference group on Facebook. This isn't a hugely social group (it's mostly for information about the conference), and I wasn't ready to make the financial (or otherwise) commitment to go to the conference, but someone there posted that they were looking to start a writing group near Boise, and that started the group I am with now, of more serious writers. That was huge. Being with writers who are actually serious
about writing, rather than just dabbling, is a HUGE difference.
3. 2 years ago I suddenly (it really did come on rather suddenly) became so obsessed with the BBC Sherlock character that I decided to do something I hadn't done since high school: escape my miserable life by writing a better one. Except this time, I knew enough about writing that I decided I would write something quality, not just escapist, BUT, because it was fanfiction, I wrote it without any intent to publish. Because it had that 'freedom' to it, the anxieties of 'never being good enough' were irrelevant, and I found myself writing like CRAZY. And something in me tipped. It was like breaking through ice. Suddenly, instead of seeing nothing but frustration and bad writing that I didn't know how to fix, I had a sense of hope, a sense of excitement, and ideas of how to fix things. And when I listened to professional writers in podcasts or cons, the things they said made complete sense and were mostly things I had already learned.
4. As this was growing, I joined the Storymakers Tribe group on Facebook. It is associated with LDStorymakers, but is the social arm. Which means lots more chatting. And I have always communicated best over electronic media, so things started to really get going.
5. #2, #3, and #4 converged into me going to LDStorymakers last year with the girls from my local writing group. I was rather nervous about the whole thing, really. So much that I stress-baked 5 pans of goodies to bring to conference personnel who had helped me get registered and had been encouraging and nice online. I didn't talk to many people while I was there--at least I didn't feel like I did, though the girls in my local group were teasing me before it was finished that I 'knew all the bigwigs.' But holy cow! All the years of anxiety, all the years of feeling I could never be a 'real' writer, suddenly became exactly what everyone felt. Everyone. Everyone with their books out for sale at the conference. Everyone who was enough of an expert to teach classes there. And if I did say something, like reading a tiny exercise aloud in one class, I got gushing comments for two days! After so many years of not fitting in where I live or even in my own home, it was insanely accepting.
6. After conference, Facebook EXPLODED. I received maybe 40-50 friend requests, including the emcee of the conference (whom I hadn't even talked to at the conference), within the month or two after conference. Then I got put on the Storymakers Tribe committee. I now teach webinars on Scrivener and gab with all sorts of people that older friends of mine whisper to me like, 'oh my gosh, how do you know her? I have all her books and I love her! And HER! How do you do this?'
And because I don't read much LDS fiction, I realize it's not because I approach them as a fan (I don't read most of their stuff), but as a person and fellow writer.
It gets kind of freaky, really. I mean, I'm just a goofball who likes to talk about writing. And sometimes I actually even write.
But when you find your people...I think things just click.
I say this and it sounds natural and easy, but I know it can be very hard. I am not completely an extrovert, I am very much an ambivert, and my depression and anxiety sometimes make social interaction nearly impossible. Honestly, if I didn't have facebook or other electronic media to interact and get to know people through, I would likely still be floundering. If I don't feel 'grounded' with some sort of comfortable setting or relationship, I freeze up in person. But getting to know people online makes in-person meetings easier, and can give me that grounding. Not to mention the years of counseling and working really hard on social interactions and forcing myself to be brave. But it can get there.