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Success and rewards is the only way I can describe what I feel after attending the last day of the conference. My husband and I came up with a plan after two days of debilitating anxiety, and the plan worked. What does this mean? It means I can sign up for other conferences in the future and continue to network with writers and learn from their experience – something I feel I really need while I am just starting to develop a career in writing.

What does this mean in even bigger terms? Schizophrenia didn’t get the best of me. Yes, I have limits, yes, I have set backs and bad days and experiences, but as long as I keep pushing and keep going forward and refuse to give up, the game is not over for me. Life is still there for me to live and to get the most out of it that I can. Not every little thing is good. Not every little thing is easy, but life is still beautiful and I am still on my feet and walking even if all those around me are running. I’ll get there. I may be slow, but there can be growth and contemplation in time spent moving slowly. Not everything has to be face paced.

If I wouldn’t have tried that one last time, I would have missed a talk that was so inspirational. The panelists talked about making our writing personal while also writing about things that concern the larger community. This is something that many of us do on our blogs. We write about our own lives while intersecting with issues that are important to society. For instance, I write about my own experience with a mental illness but I often write about a lack of treatment for people, the history of care of the mentally ill in this country, stigma and discrimination.

These issues are not just about my personal life, they intersect with the whole mental health community and society as a whole. And to make it all more fascinating, everything I write also intersects with the experience of being a woman. I also frequently tie the experience of one minority group (the mentally ill) with that of other minority groups (people of color).  This gives my writing layers that are not only interesting to read, but the writing becomes part of all of our experience. Of course, many bloggers are doing the same thing with their writing and blogs.

In other words, you bloggers rock the Internet world! I have often said that artists (writers included) are the culture changers. It is our ideas, and our images, photographs, graphic, paintings, words, movies, television shows etc. that influence the rest of society.

At the conference I learned there is a great responsibility to inhabiting that role in society. Not only can you educate, inform, generate conversation, expand minds, and interpret events, you can influence people in the choices they make, the way they see the world, the way they treat others, and the way they live their lives. That is a huge responsibility full of possibility.

We have all been given this incredible platform for using our voice, and with that comes an incredible responsibility – I was able to hear people talk about the importance of that today and it changed my outlook about my writing and your writing. If you have five readers or you have five thousand readers, your voice is having an impact on the larger world – something important to think about before hitting send.