An essential human need. Babies wither without it. Adults blossom with it.
Just now, I witnessed the most adorable thing at the Panera. An older woman—at least 70—and a 20-something man embraced after an effusive “Good morning!” They both have Panera aprons on. All smiles, they set to work, doing the things Panera employees do.
And these two kept at it, circling around, chatting with customers and each other, all while doing the tasks of clean up and coffee resupply and such.
Connection and joy. Just being witness to it affects one.
Earlier I reconnected with an author friend (the wonderful Sherri Petersen) as she was traveling through town. We met originally at a conference in LA when we were both young-in-journey—to connect again, 7 years later, after just dropping off our first-borns at college was a pleasure replete with reminders of why we were fast friends all those years ago. Some people you just *connect* with like there’s a bypass circuit that directly puts your minds in synchrony. Years and geography don’t matter. Like the Panera employees, age and gender don’t matter. Your hearts just *fit*.
I’m incredibly blessed in my life for many reasons, but high on the list are all the author friends I’ve had orbit into my life (or me into theirs). That one-on-one connection has always been the way I operate best, the place where I can be my most authentic self. I’m capable of speaking into the void (which is what writing often is, exposing your heart for the unknown, future, anonymous reader). I’m competent at speaking to groups, large and small, entertaining and communicating with them (another form of connection). But it’s the person-to-person stuff that’s most satisfying. There, I get to take the leap and say, “This is me. This is how I come, messy and complicated.” And I get to peer into their hearts and say, “Look how wonderful you are!”
Connection—it’s one of the best parts of being human.
Being part of a connected author community is super important for writers—we tend to get easily isolated, and heaven knows we’re stuck in our heads most of the time as it is. Over the years, I’ve made connections through blogging, Facebook groups, critique partner swaps, in-person critique groups and more. Start local, see what’s there, but I honestly think it’s easier to connect online—the whole world is at your feet. Check out the post below to find FB author groups. From there, you can make connections and propose critique partner swaps (just a chapter at first, sort of like speed dating to see if you’re compatible) or organize other activities together. Or just get support for the journey. That’s one of the most important things we can do for each other.