Monday, November 10, 2008

Everyone Needs a Place to Belong

by Joyce DiPastena

I remember when I first joined ANWA sometime back in the 20th Century, how excited I was at finding a group of like-hearted LDS writers. Finally! I’d found someplace I felt I belonged, at least a little bit, among other women who loved to write but who weren’t eager to write in the “ways of the world”. With the cutting edge of internet technology being almost primitive by today’s standards (especially for people like me, living in rural areas), my one true link to ANWA was the newsletter, Of Good Report. Every month, the first pages I would flip to were the Chapter Minutes. I loved reading about what the other women were writing, even though I’d never met a one of them. As I read about these women month after month, their names and writing projects became familiar to me. None of them (except, perhaps, for Marsha Ward) had a clue in the world that I even existed, but I knew about them. In fact, I came to feel like I knew them, at least in a tiny sense. And it didn’t take many months for me to find myself wishing I could associate with them, longing to belong to an ANWA Chapter filled with these wonderful women I “knew”.

The century turned, computers, modems and internet access improved. Along came ANWASocial and ANWACritique. It took me awhile to join these groups, but once I did, I was warmly welcomed. Women I had read about for a number of years, began to become “real people”, and I began to belong in a whole new way. I found warm and willing sisters to critique my manuscripts, and occasionally, I was even able to return the favor. I learned more than just what writing projects they were working on themselves. I learned about their hopes, their triumphs, their struggles, their griefs. And unlike my experience with the newsletter, these women began to know me, too. When I attended last spring’s ANWA Conference and last summer’s Arizona Retreat and finally had an opportunity to interact with many of these delightful sisters “in real life”, I took yet another wonderful step in belonging.

Still, I continued to long for the blessing of participating in an ANWA chapter. A little over a month ago, thanks once again to the brilliance and inspiration of ANWA’s founder, Marsha Ward, ANWA initiated its first internet chapter, and I joyfully jumped in with both feet. CyberScrybers held its first online chapter meeting last Thursday night. We prayed together online. (Who knew that a typed prayer could feel just as reverent and sacred as one spoken aloud? But that’s exactly how it felt.) We shared news about writing achievements in our lives. We critiqued chapter members’ manuscripts. We did everything that other chapters do, except have refreshments. (I’m still trying to figure out how to conquer that one small, but very important, flaw!)

They say that all good things come to those who wait. From the excitement charging through the atmosphere of the ANWA chat room on Thursday night, I’m not the only one who has been waiting and longing for this final, ultimate way of belonging within ANWA. Thank you to a loving Heavenly Father, who revealed a miraculous technology that enabled LDS writers from all over the United States to be able to come together through time and space to rejoice in one another’s sisterhood. And thank you to ANWA’s inspired founder who continues to be so uniquely in tune with the Spirit in advancing the blessings of ANWA to sisters far, as well as near.

5 comments:

  1. thank you, Joyce, for this heart-felt account of your romance with ANWA. To tell the truth, when I read about your CyberScribers meeting, I longed to join in with you -- but I already have a great chapter, and can't belong to them all.

    I hardly knew you until I volunteered to do a little critiquing for you. That's when I learned to love you.

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  2. And that's when I learned to love you back, Anna. Thank you!

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  3. Thank you, Joyce. It was a great meeting anD Marsha is very inspired.

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  4. I have been so excited about the on-line chapter of ANWA. I had a previous commitment on the 6th however. Has a date been set for the December meeting?

    Thanks for your memories of ANWA, and your gratitude expressed for the online chapter.

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  5. How exciting to be able to meet like that. No flies on ANWA, as the old folks say. And thanks, Joyce, for the great way you told us about it. As always, true and entertaining.

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