How someone else’s book launch party launched me

You are one decision away from an entirely different life. 

I’ve scribbled this Mel Robbins quote at least a dozen times since I came across it. I understand how one choice is all it takes to change the trajectory of a life. While I have many examples, bad and good, the one that springs to mind revolves around a book launch party.

I should start by saying that I am a true introvert who needs time alone to recharge and avoids new social situations at all costs. But a year ago, I promised to stop dragging my feet and make my writing a priority in 2022. When Tammy, a local author I had met once, scheduled her book release party on January 16th, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to further my 2022 goal.

But true to my introverted nature, panic shot through my nervous system as I drove to the launch party. I willed myself to keep the car moving forward instead of slamming on the brakes and going back. While I was nervous about this new social situation, I was terrified by the prospect of derailing my writing goals yet again.

I parked around the corner from the event and called Chris, my husband. I told him I couldn’t do it. It was going to be a disaster. My hands shook. A swelling lump suffocated me. I was sweating even though it was a mild day. Chris (always the calm to my storm) reminded me why this was important for me to do. He told me how strong I was, how cool it was that I got to do this and that he would get in the car and meet me in half an hour if that’s what it would take for me to go inside.

As he talked, my legs inched closer and closer to the door. Before I hung up, I told him I could do it but made him swear not to leave the phone just in case. And then there was nothing else for me to do except step inside. So, I did.

Here’s the thing that happens when you get brave—the universe somehow catches that wave of courage, and it rewards you. For me, it came in the form of Sheila, another writer I met at the local Women’s Fiction Writers Association get-together months before. She stepped right up and introduced me to two other writers with her, Kristi and Christel.

Before I knew it, I agreed to attend a write-in (whatever that was) at Sheila’s condo the following day. I remember calling Chris on my way home, giddy and saying something like, “Not only didn’t I die, but I’m going to hang out with them again tomorrow!” I felt like a kid coming home on the first day at a new school. Meeting people with the same passion and creative energy fed my own. Plus, it was nice not to feel so alone.

At Sheila’s the next day, she, along with Kristi and Christel, encouraged (read: FORCED) me to join a virtual WFWA write-in through Zoom. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew I didn’t want to do it. Before I could come up with a viable escape plan, we were all Zooming and meeting with a larger part of the WFWA tribe. And again, a decision I made (albeit via peer pressure) sent my life further down the writing path.

In the year since my first write-in, I have come so far in this writing journey, buoyed by the connection with fellow writers, in-person and across Zoom. I’m querying a book I am proud of and want people to read! I’ve published essays! I’ve cannonballed into the deep end of the freelance writing pool and am building my business and creative portfolio. 

My journey isn’t anywhere near done. In fact, it’s just getting started. But, had I not walked into that book launch party, I would have still been stuck wanting what I now have: a group of friends and writing allies who mean the world to me and for whom I will always carry a heart full of gratitude.

Remember, You are one decision away from a completely different life.

And once you make that decision and start living that life, you will never want to go back.