I had a wonderful time on Wednesday night with a local Christian writers group let by my friend Lori Freeland. They meet at a restaurant and enjoy having authors and others in the publishing world come visit with them on occasion. They offer an evening of great conversation and a free dinner for their visitor. And who can beat that?
Of course I was nervous. I still feel like a bit of an impostor when a group of people looks to me for some writing wisdom, though it was easy enough to share the story of my journey to publication. But what I enjoyed most of all was interacting with the people one-on-one toward the end of the evening, answering specific questions regarding their own work or journey and encouraging them in some way. More and more I’m realizing that those interactions energize me to keep stepping out of my comfort zone and addressing groups.
But being my first “dinner” meeting, I also learned a few things myself. Here are my top three take-aways from my time with them:
- DON’T try to eat a salad when you are the guest who will spend much of the time talking.
It’s harder than you think to shove a bite of lettuce and fruit and chicken in your mouth in the short moment of someone asking a question, let alone chew and swallow! Next time I would order something that could easily be cut into very tiny bites.
- DON’T neglect one end of the table for the other.
Because I was seated in the middle so everyone could hear, I found I had to keep reminding myself to turn my head and talk to both ends of the table–and even to look straight ahead, on occasion, to the person sitting across from me! A little thing, but one that for me will take more practice!
- DO make time to interact one-on-one.
There’s nothing worse than leaving an intimate group like that feeling neglected. That tends to happen to me, so I tried very hard to talk for a few minutes with each person so everyone felt visible and valuable. I hope I succeeded a little bit in that, but want to try to do better.
So there you have it. Three lessons learned to carry forward. I’m so blessed that Lori gave this very green author the chance to interact with a whole new group of aspiring writers. And I’m so grateful that the Lord continues to show His faithfulness in every new experience.