Water seeks its own level and water rises collectively. —Julia Cameron

I didn’t feel like doing the reading. I was registered to attend a writing conference, and the opening speaker had requested that we read at least one book from a list of recommended titles, which irritated me. I don’t like homework.

But I do like reading, so I gave it a shot, and I was glad because—from the first page of my chosen book—I understood exactly why the speaker had asked us to read it. The voice was clear, distinct, and very funny.

I went to the session, excited to meet the person who had assigned this book. At the start of the talk, she asked, “Why do you think I asked you to read these books?” Nobody raised their hand to speak...nobody but me.

I told her the reasons that the book I read was a perfect way to explore voice, and I thanked her for assigning it. After the session, I went up to this woman and introduced myself. Although the conference was one state over, we discovered that we lived a mile apart. She told me that she was in a writing group and they were looking for a new member.

And this is how I talked my way into a writing group with several award-winning authors. The speaker was Ellen Wittlinger, who became my dear friend, as did the rest of the members of the writing group. We met every month or so for over twelve years at a Panera in a strip mall halfway between Boston and Northampton.

I had only one published book at the time I approached Ellen at the conference. But I just had a feeling—based solely on her book recommendation and ensuing speech—that she was one of “my people.” She was far more established and experienced, and I was nervous to approach her. But the fact is that I wanted to make connections with writers who had more experience than I did. I wanted to learn.

Writers are always learning and always teaching one another. Ideally, a writing group is a place where everyone is always raising their game.

It’s important to continually raise your game, whether that’s in a writing group or by taking classes, listening to podcasts, or even just by reading, reading, reading. We’re here for each other, and we’ll all rise, like water, together.