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Joining a new group is always an interesting prospect. You’re entering into an existing dynamic. Some people are great at diving into and becoming part of that dynamic. Others, like myself, hang back and observe for awhile. I like to get a sense of how things work…how everyone relates to each other…how I might fit in or contribute…essentially, find out if I belong or not.

Yesterday, as part of my re-entry back into life without a cold, I attended my first Redwood Writers’ Meeting. It was held in a conference room at one of our local hotels. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming, and there were actually quite a few new members present, as I learned when the meeting started because we were all asked to stand as we were introduced. I could see from the start that it’s a close-knit group that takes their writing efforts seriously and truly wishes to create a local community that supports its members and their works.

Chairs were set up facing a podium and table. I sat with my friend and fellow Key towards the front (if I sit at the back of anything, I don’t pay attention), and soon the meeting commenced with said introductions, as well as a series of announcements. I jotted down events that captured my interest (for example, I’m definitely attending the reading by local mystery writers to be held by candlelight in our hundred year-old mausoleum next Wednesday night) and waited for the main event: a panel discussion on “How to Build Your Platform” by entering contests and pursuing publication in literary magazines and anthologies. (Timely topic for me, wouldn’t you say?)

As I expressed in my post, “To join or not to join…?” a few weeks ago, the sign from God that I needed in order to pay the membership fee and join the Redwood Writers came in the form of a professor of mine with whom I had been hoping to reconnect and who just happened to be sitting on this panel. My professor, Anita Amirrezvani (pictured in the center below), was indeed there, along with Peg Alford Pursell, and Susan Keller. And I have to say, they were all stellar. I didn’t think I could learn much more about these topics, but I quickly realized I knew next to nothing about the benefits of pursuing anthology publication and I benefitted greatly from the insights into what literary magazine editors really want. In fact, I took a good three pages of notes. The women were wonderful speakers with a wealth of knowledge and experience which they generously shared with all of us. Listening to them made me excited and hopeful about this process, which is quite daunting and quite applicable to me at this moment.

Redwood Writers 1

All in all, I’d say my first meeting with the Redwood Writers was a success. I needed a day to process my feelings and impressions at joining a new group. I still have observing and assessing to do, but I’m excited for the next meeting…to see what will now be some familiar faces, to learn something new, and to just be around people who have a genuine enthusiasm for writing.

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