Tonight I’m going to a speech contest for my local Toastmasters organization. I will be greeting observers, supporting my competing friends, and helping to get the work of the evening done. I’m really looking forward to it.
Some people are not joiners, but I am. Writing is solitary in some ways, and I need time alone each day to think and to create. I also need the company of others who are trying to achieve the same goals, who are striving to become better. We help each other out. Writing groups increase the learning curve as long as the people in the groups write and share their work. Some groups are all talk and no pen on paper. That doesn’t help anybody.
I joined Toastmasters for my writing. It helps me with poetry performance, and I want to be ready for those book tours later in my career. I was already a good speaker, but I knew I could become even better with the feedback of others. Toastmasters has a proven training program, and I’ve learned a lot by watching my fellow speakers. The polished orators within the group are great teachers, and so are those speakers who still need improvement. Bad speakers teach you what not to do. Badly-written books do the same thing—they alert you to what doesn’t work.
People with the same interests understand each other’s needs and desires. I’ve joined a local country dance group, and we were meeting in a church rec room the other day. One of the more practiced dancers was helping me with my two-step. I was doing okay, and he said “now we’ve got to get you into some cowboy boots.” The slippery bottom will help my foot slide properly during a waltz, and the heel will make a more satisfying stomp when I’m line dancing. He told me where to go find them, too. I’d never even envisioned myself in cowboy boots—I wouldn’t have made that leap on my own. I was excited, and shared that with another dancer. She proudly showed me her first pair, now scuffed by the year’s dancing. I can’t wait to scuff my own.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
63. What are your interests? Check out groups devoted to that interest and see about dropping into a meeting.