by Susan Sey
When I was in high school, we referred to the junior/senior prom simply as Prom. Not the prom. Prom. Proper noun. As in, "Are you going to Prom?" "Anybody ask you to Prom yet?" "I found a wicked awesome dress for Prom this weekend. It'll rock with my black lace half-gloves & asymmetrical haircut."
Maybe it was a generational thing. (Those gloves sure were.) Because I also seem to remember referring to summer camp that way. "You sign up for Camp yet?" "I'm doing the two-week Camp this summer, plus a week of CIT training." "I can't wait for Camp."
I, like many geeky misfits, lived for Camp. (Prom not so much.) Camp was time out of time, a brief respite from a social hierarchy cemented in elementary school. Camp was full of kids who didn't know about the time in 3rd grade when you barfed corn dogs all over Mrs. Ecklestein's floor, and had never heard about your ill-fated flirtation with the crimping iron and stirrup pants.
Camp was a new wardrobe, a clean slate & a fresh start.
But more than that, Camp was also full of friends. Not just friends, though. Peers. Like-minded souls. Camp usually self-selects--church camp, horse camp, choir camp, sports camp...whatever it is, you're suddenly surrounded by people who love what you love.
Camp means finding your People. And time with them is precious. Brief. A cherished few weeks or days once a year.
I have finally realized that RWA's national convention is my new Camp.
I take a few days each summer to spend with my People. People who understand that the only thing scary about hearing voices in your head is the possibility that one day they may disappear.
People who fling around terms like Pantser & Plotzer with completely straight faces.
People who nod with grave sympathy when you tell them you chickened out of a fan girl moment for the fifth year in a row & tell you about the time they had one too many glasses of wine and didn't chicken out of their fan girl moment but sincerely wish they had.
I'm home now, exhausted from the travel & late nights. Terrified by the work ahead of me that seemed so possible and thrilling when I discussed it with my People just a few days ago.
And I have a whole year to walk through before it happens again. A whole book to write. Maybe two.
But I'm also energized from floating on all that creative energy, and motivated by having spoken by goals out loud to people who won't hesitate to kick my butt for me should I hesitated to follow through.
So now? Now I get to work. Wish me luck. And don't be afraid to drop me a stern email every now & then to make sure I'm on track.
How about you? What's your oasis every year, your respite from the grind? Who are your People, & where do you find them? How do you keep going between visits?