Last weekend, I attended the San Diego Wild Animal Park‘s Roar and Snore Safari. One of the many animal presentations included a cheetah and a dog. Cheetahs are nervous, especially in front of crowds of strange people who might be predators. The San Diego Wild Animal Park has been pairing cheetah cubs with shelter puppies and as they both grow up, the net relationship dynamic is that the dogs have a calming effect on the cheetahs. Dogs are used to interacting with people and sitting in front of a crowd presents no danger to them, just as the dog above demonstrates and the cheetah picks up on this, feels safer, less anxious.
Just as this cheetah is an animal ambassador, we are ambassadors of our work when we send it out or when we read in public. Putting ourselves out there may make us wish we could dash 100 yards away in 5.7 seconds but our writing needs our advocacy and no one else will do it for us.
We may attend classes, workshops, and conferences to develop our craft but we’re also there to be inspired by others and, yes, make friends. Did that second part make your gut cringe? It’s okay, mine did too. Can’t I just listen to the lecture and go home? No. I’m already tired from being here all day. Well, suck it up, buttercup. Fortunately, quality is more important than quantity, so take your time to find the right one or two.
And I’m not talking about networking (see #12), though certainly being well-connected helps. But knowing those people won’t do any good without the support from a few fellow writers whose friendship helps you take risks with your work and be brave when doing the difficult things that writing demands of us.