Full disclosure: the following post isn’t actually about food or farming. I know, I’m sorry. I ran it by Lisa Richardson because I had my doubts as to whether it would be appropriate, and as she jokingly said, “there’s no mention of dirt anywhere!”
But it is about Pemberton, and the people that live here, so please bear with me. It’ll be worth it in the end, I promise.
My partner and I didn’t end up in Pemberton by choice, per se, but by chance. He received an offer for a job based mainly out of Whistler, but his route would cover Squamish to Pemberton. We had the choice of which town we wanted to live in, and we chose Pemberton. The funny thing is that we didn’t choose Pemberton specifically because of its world renowned mountain biking and outdoor sports, or thriving farming community. It just seemed like a nice, quiet place to live, and we were tired of the hustle and bustle of big city living.
When we first moved here, I quickly came to realize how steeped Pemberton is in outdoor adventure sports. Mountain biking, BMX, hiking, climbing, skiing, sledding, paragliding, fishing, hunting, and everything in between. Once I started meeting people in the community, I realized that many of them came to Pemberton specifically for this reason, and would spend every free moment they had exploring and experiencing the rugged backcountry. I knew people who worked two jobs just to make sure they could afford both their ski pass and bike pass every year, and many that would keep their gear ready to go in their vehicle for a quick ride or climb after work. Because you never know.
I am not one of those people. I’m not what you would call athletic or even adventurous. I am the nerd. The book worm. I would much rather have my adventures within a really good book from the comfort of my sunny deck. I haven’t been on a bicycle in about eight years. I haven’t been on a pair of skis in probably fifteen.
And that started to bother me a little. Here I was, living in a gorgeous valley full of fun and adventure in the great outdoors, and I started to feel that I was missing something. And with housing prices rising and the town really growing, I had a little thread of disquiet that I didn’t belong in Pemberton if I wasn’t into that, and that maybe I’d be better suited somewhere else. That I should let someone else take my place who would enjoy those activities.
Let’s change course a little here. Two weeks ago I attended my first writing conference in Seattle held by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, of which I’m a member. I spent four days taking workshops, meeting other authors, including those specifically in my genre (fantasy fiction), chatting with agents and editors, and overall immersing myself in the world of writing. I was incredibly nervous to go. I didn’t know a single person there. I had never done this before. And I had only been seriously writing for about three years, a process that I’ve gone through almost entirely alone. I was a little nervous that I’d meet more established, published authors and they’d laugh in my face.
I’m happy to say they didn’t. I had the most incredible, uplifting, energizing time of my life. From the very first morning, I had no problem chatting up strangers and engaging in intelligent conversation about writing. I got to ask their opinions on topics I was a little unsure about, like self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and share what I’ve learned on how to write fiction. I made friends that I saw again and again during the conference, friends that I imagine I’ll have for a very long time. I pitched my novel to agents and editors for the first time and didn’t make a fool of myself. I got to meet incredible authors like: Kay Kenyon, who has 14 published novels under her belt; Donald Maas, veteran literary agent and expert fiction instructor; Christopher Vogler, who’s been a story consultant for major Hollywood companies (including Disney) for decades. I even got to shake hands with R.L. Stine, who was the featured speaker for the conference. (He’s hilarious, by the way.)
I realized from this conference that those are my people. Writers, editors, literary agents. People involved in the writing world and for whom writing is their whole life. Because writing is my whole life too. My first novel is almost finished and I’ve already got plans for three more. I think about my books every day. Every minute that I’m not at work or managing the tasks of my life, I’m thinking about writing. I keep a notebook and pen with me ready to go at all times. Because you never know.
So now, I’ve finally realized that I’m not betraying my beloved town of Pemberton by not participating in adventure sports. It’s just that my adventurist friends have found their people, and they happen to live in Pemberton. Their people are fixed on a geographic location, while my people are more spread out. I needed to put in a little extra effort to find my people. And the good news is that you can have multiple people. My community in Pemberton are my people too, because while we may not share a love for outdoor sports, there is something else we share. A love for this town. We love its rugged beauty, its incredible natural bounty, and its thriving, vibrant community.
So I say whatever it is that calls to you, that drives you, that fills you up, you need to find your people. Find the people that share that love, that drive, and it will make everything better.
(And if you’re one of my writing people, feel free to chat me up about all things writing! You can usually find me at the Blackbird Bakery serving coffee and delicious treats.)