Last night the amazing Claudia Osmond hosted the 2nd Annual Torkidlit Christmas gathering of writers in her lovely, beautifully renovated home (BTW.I love seeing reno'd homes. Makes me think there is hope for my home!). Anyway, I can't thank Claudia enough for opening her home to quite a few of the Torkidlit writers but, more importantly, I don't know if she realizes what an important thing she started a couple of years ago when she gathered a few Toronto PB, MG and YA writers and illustrators together in a downtown Toronto pub for an evening of talk, drinking and laughter (and sometimes tears). It's become a regular monthly, must-go outing for many of us. And, for writers, once you've experience that community of like-minded individuals talking face-to-face nothing can replace it.
I know the thing now is Facebook and Twitter and writing boards. And, yes, those communities and the chance to connect virtually with writers from thousands of miles away is a wonderous and, in many ways, life-saving opportunity. But face-to-face time with other writers is SO important. There is such value in hearing the voice of the person you might have only connected to via the web. In that voice you hear the subtle nuances of the information they are trying to convey and see the facial expressions that give you so much more context. You can literally give someone a shoulder to cry on or jump up and down with them when they have fabulous news. Putting a real face to the tweets, messages, blogs, etc. then makes your virtual connection even that much stronger.
I'm not saying that Face-to-Face is better than virtual. I'm saying that it gives many writers that added human connection and understanding that we need once in a while in order to be able to slog through the hard times and celebrate the good times. Even if a writer lives in outer Siberia, if there is the faintest chance that they can attend a workshop or travel to a gathering of writers once in a blue moon, I would encourage them to do it. Sometimes, that human connection may be enough to help keep the writing fire alive. Join CANSCAIP. Join SCBWI. Join RWA. JOIN. Meet. Talk. Face to face. It's a life-line.
So, yes, thanks to the Internet, we are more connected now than ever. But also thanks to writers like Claudia Osmond (and Debbie Ohi!) for starting that Face-to-Face time here in Toronto. Thank you, ladies. Very much.