Thank You, Athens Writers Association

I moved to Athens in December 2011 with my husband, who had recently achieved his dream of becoming a tenure-track professor. I’d never lived outside of California before. A year and a half later, I was still struggling to find my own life in a part of the country where I’d never visited, much less lived.

Still, I had to find my own way in Athens. As optimistic as I was when I arrived, and as hard as I tried to fit in, I kept falling on my face—and that was hard. Many times, I felt like giving up, but I kept reaching out to new people. I’d made a commitment to my husband and myself to make it work. This was the life I had chosen. There had to be a place for me. 

For I’d also come to Athens with high hopes of realizing my own lifelong dream of becoming a published writer.



The author at her first AWA meeting.

My first attempt at joining a writing critique group in 2012 was a disaster. I was the poster child for blowing a first impression. During the meeting, I proceeded to bluntly tell them that they were discouraging other writers with their focus on negative commentary in lieu of praise. Talk about putting my foot in my mouth.

I’ve since learned how to catch flies with honey instead of vinegar here in the South, and in general, but needless to say, I burned that bridge with that writing group. To my credit, I went back to two more meetings, and to their credit, they were polite, albeit not particularly welcoming. Who could blame them after this stranger from the West Coast had lectured them on night one? 

After that, I decided writing groups were not for me… until I found the Athens Writers Association.

Little did I know when I walked into the Coffee Shop of Athens that night in July 2013 how my life was about to change. 

I’d missed their kickoff in March, but the Athens Writers Association, fondly known as the AWA, did not fully take off until their August meeting. I met many writers, and we decided to launch our own critique group. I’m proud to say we have been working together for more than six years.

Sometimes in life, it takes someone, or something, to turn the tide of the storm. For me, the Athens Writers Association was that something. My life in Athens has since changed for the better. I’ve created a life of my own that has not only led to my becoming a published writer, but also to my own new career at UGA.

A friend once told me that people come into your life for a reason. Sometimes, it is just for a season. Sometimes, it is for a lifetime. When they come into your life, they are meant to be there at that time. Sometimes, the reason is not always clear until years later, long after they have left your life.

My fellow AWA writers came into my life at just the right time. It is because of them that I have blossomed, and I know as I move forward, the petals on this beautiful, glorious flower I have grown into will never wilt. The AWA will always be with me in spirit, and I will always be writing.

And, although my life in Athens started out rocky and frightening and lonely and uncertain, I have grown to truly love this college town with all my heart.

Athens, I love you.