Sometimes, we reach a fork in the road. Rather than deliberate and fret, sometimes, we just choose one road and hope it meanders back to a medium course or path later. If it doesn't, we know that we still made the right choice and that we gained from the journey.
I started interning with Women on Writing/WOW through an online program over a year ago. I had found out about the program through past participation in a flash fiction contest that I tried like a lot of things -- on a whim. I never considered myself a writer, and I'll admit, I only started entering contests and looking for writing opportunities when the job search (that still isn't fully over) hit a dry spell, and I needed something both as a reprieve and as a way to grow.
Through my time in this community, I have learned of freelance opportunities which helped out some, and also found more contests and areas to pursue. That said, however, the stuff I really learned and really gained goes beyond that.
First, I learned what amazing dedication those long-time WOWers have (from Annette and Angela of course, but even to all of those in charge of the blog tours and blogger schedules to those who handle the contest judging, all the way to those who write for and read this blog with regularity) and how much we all benefit from their tenacity. I learn from your successes and stresses, from your genres and fields of expertise.
From some of you, I learn from your wit and from your tech-savvy too. The things learned from this internship include all the cool features in Gmail, from how to use Google Docs, the calendar, and well, how to blog in this particular platform. These lessons I have shared with friends, classmates, and the occasional college student during tutoring sessions, depending on needs, wants, desires, and extent of collaboration. With regards to wit, I have found many days improved with a quick read of the latest blog post, cross-referenced hyperlink, or from a group email on the listserv.
More than anything, however, I learned from all of you what a true sense of community is over the Internet. I am in Pennsylvania/United States; where are you? The number of times I received instantaneous responses from West Coast WOW staffers, despite the geographic and time zone differences, made me chuckle. It likewise fostered a feeling that no matter what silly question I would have, I could find an answer with a quick email, a glance through the blog's archives, or by LinkedIn messaging another of the cohort. From the listserv messages, I feel a sense of us all being in a room, egging each other on, empathizing, or commiserating.
In retrospect, I think part of the reason I never considered myself a writer or that writing was something I would like to pursue stems from the fact that the job is a solitary pursuit, as someone famous probably said (as it looks like something I read somewhere, at some point). While I can be a solitary type of person, I went into anthropology for a reason. I like observing people and their interactions with the environment. As one of my bosses quipped the other day, I'm too human to go into some fields.
Through the course of the past year, I've realized writing does not have to be done while isolated from others and without a support system. The founders/creators of Women On Writing probably saw into that years before, but yeah well, I am a slow learner and it took that participant observation (using that loosely defined of course) to realize I could write and consider myself a writer. In this regard, I had all of you whether directly or indirectly inspiring and encouraging me onward. It took me a long time of reflecting to see how much I have grown and how truly much I have loved my time with WOW, even if I was only an online intern.
That said, it probably comes as little surprise to those still reading this tome of a post, I've come to a fork in the road. While I'm still working part-time, I'm finding more success with my writing and other endeavors and feel I need a little more time to ride the next wave so to speak and tie it back to my first loves - anthropology and teaching.
I no longer feel like I'm barely treading above water and I have you all to thank for that. I found how writing fills the void I feel in my slow transition to a professional life and how writing can in fact enhance my career options down the road. In the past year, I've sent a book review to press, written and had accepted two articles for a professional newsletter, entered and lost some contests (even entered the Washington Post pundit one too), and found myself jumping on freelance opportunities at a rate I never would have if others had not given me the idea to and even more so, the resources to do so.
I can only hope two things: that some how, some way, I was of a similar resource to you all (or that I could be in the future) and that even though it feels like a fork in the road that our paths (as I think it was Marcia put it) do pass again in the future. Maybe with some time away from Women on Writing intern duties, I'll get out of a dry spell when it comes to blog posts and too, will have the time to commit and dedicate myself to them fully and then maybe you all could let me back online once in a while. At the very least, this is not a definitive fork - after all, I can still lurk on the website, the blog, and the Twitter accounts, reading and gleaning gems. In short, I can still keep my eyes on all of you and cheer you on.
For me, the decision was not a true decision. I felt the time just was right to say my farewells and try walking down a path in part created by all the open doors from my time here with you all. I want others to have the experiences and chances to grow, to change, to evolve and find their inner voices, and too want to see what I can come up with. This is one of the first true gut feelings I have acted on in a while, which means it has to be the right thing to do. All I felt I had to do was to leave you all a note, one more for the road.
Best of luck and thanks from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me. Your patience, dedication, passion, and drive is what makes this a true community, one I am blessed to have been selected to be part of this stage in life. May we cross paths again -whether it's your article staring me down at the checkout counter on a magazine, your screenplay on my television screen or at my local movie theater or your book sitting there on top of the bestseller list on Amazon. After all, you all deserve to gain the most from your own writing and life journeys too!