Last month I hosted a mini-retreat for my writers group. This is the third summer we’ve gathered at my mountain property, and people seem to enjoy the experience … and I enjoy hosting it! Fresh air, quiet, and nature all converge to open up the creativity valve. My fellow writers and I allow the quiet to speak to us, and creative sparks that ignite fan the flame for children’s stories, romance stories, poetic symphonies, and other flavorful forms of writing. We share not only the natural space, but also ourselves and our stories – it’s a magical experience!
When we write and publish and read our works to others, we can encounter a scary experience – sharing our stories is sharing ourselves and that opens us up to criticism; that’s frightening on so many levels. Our creativity is a personal thing and if someone is critical of our work, we may take it personally. It’s risky to show that creative, personal side, to be vulnerable. Yet, we better ourselves through that vulnerability, that sharing. Writers’ groups help us grow, in our craft and personally.
Later this month, one of my fellow Casper writers and I will travel to Montana to conduct programs and booksignings in three communities. Elizabeth has connections to all three places; I have ties to one. We will be reading from our works and talking about our passion for writing. We’ll share space with the audiences and we’ll share our stories – we’ll share ourselves … and we’ll be vulnerable in the doing of such. I’m looking forward to the events!
Last month I participated in an event with the Casper Humane Society, selling books during their first annual PAWS for a Moment Community Appreciation. Collaborating with animal welfare and rescue organizations is a great partnership for me – I connect with other “dog people” who respond positively to my “dog books,” including the Chicken Soup for the Soul books in which I have dog stories. I hope to stretch my reach to other pet rescue groups in the region, and God willing, nationally. I plan to travel in October to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah to visit, to volunteer, and to market my books. We’ll see if “around the bend” there are greater opportunities for my books to be part of larger animal welfare events, those outside Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain area. I believe my stories, my books, resonate with pet owners no matter where they live, and I look forward to sharing with people in other parts of the country … however and whatever form that may take.
My first book published in 2007. I remember my first readings, my first approaches to bookstores, my first book signings – SCARY! I’ve grown since those days as a novice author, marketer, freelancer, and business woman: I still have room to improve in all areas, but my confidence is stronger, my writing more polished, and my connections deeper. My association with other writers – through the local group, the state organization, and this blog “family” – strengthens and encourages me. I am thankful to share space (physically and virtually), stories, and self with others, including you, my Writing Wranglers friends!
How does sharing help you grow? What scares you about sharing your stories, your space, and yourself with others?
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.