Tomorrow, I will board a bus to Ghost Ranch where one hundred writers await. They’re ready to haunt me in the New Mexico desert and send me home with horror stories. They’re ready to howl in my ears and spur goose bumps along my neck. They’re ready to tell me I’m not good enough.
Oh wait, that’s my imagination. Quiet, you! Where did this insecurity come from?
Yesterday, my head floated in the clouds as my plane touched down in Albuquerque. Even the thunderclouds couldn’t shake me. My eyes lit up at the red rock canyons and plateaus below. My fingertips itched to write, to welcome the desert sand.
But today, I read through all the biographies of the women writers attending the 2013 A Room of Her Own Writing Retreat, and I doubted myself completely. How could I compete with these incredible writers? How could I hope to have a relevant conversation with them? Ph.D.’s, MFA’s, published books, professors, high-profile awards, and who am I? I could hear the refrain in my head, “Who let that girl in?”
It didn’t help that I was sitting on a bunk bed at my Route 66 Hostel. How unprofessional. How college co-ed. How true.
I’m a young aspiring writer with a few short story publications and contest wins under my belt. I majored in English Literature. I’ve interned at inspiring organizations like National Novel Writing Month, the Young Writers Program, and Room to Read. I’ve published freelance articles on lifestyle, travel, nonprofits, hard news, and other random topics. But, all of it felt like nothing compared to these writers. How could I face them tomorrow? Would any of them want to talk to me? Would I have anything interesting to say about writing? A whole week with these people at an isolated ranch in the desert, what would I do?
And then, I stood up and whacked my head on the bunk bed above me. So silly. Remember that the judges saw promise in your writing sample and accepted you into this competitive retreat. Remember that the whole point of the A Room of Her Own Foundation is to create a strong and bold writing community. Remember that all of the women writers have been where I am now. Remember your voice.
And stop hitting your head on the top bunk.