If there's anything that makes you feel like a part of the writers' community, it's getting an invitation from people whose work you respect. Over the past couple of months, I've received several invitations to submit to projects. It's a warm feeling.
Part of the reason I decided to write was because I like talking with them. I listened to Tim Powers speak at a book signing, and I knew that I wanted to have conversations with him and people like him. At NECON, I have spent wonderful hours talking about ideas with other writers. It's unimaginable fun to sit in a group of people who are throwing out ideas, with other people knocking them in utterly insane directions.
To my delight, I'm getting there. Hard work pays off, as does having the right phlebotomist.