Writer, You Are Not Alone
The lone writer furiously typing on her keyboard. Her isolated existence expanded by the wide world in her imagination. The depressed, melodramatic author slumped on a bar stool. He scribbles in a notebook with a stub of a pencil, growling at anyone who dares interrupt his process. Popular media leads us to believe these pictures of writers. Anyone who doesn’t fit these two simplifications can’t possibly be a REAL writer. If you’re trying to squeeze into the gloomy office but aren’t getting anywhere with your novel, that’s because, GASP, writers are social creatures, too.
What? Where do you come upon this revelation? Simple. I have breached the walls and found a world of welcoming writers.
My first revelation formed at Dragon Con in Atlanta when I sat in a room filled with other aspiring writers. Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta talked to us about the lessons they learned after decades in the business. More science fiction and fantasy authors gave talks about world building and character development and series creation. I was flabbergasted by the possibility of it all. Even though “don’t quit your day job” was the first recommendation of Anderson and Moesta, for the first time, the seed of being an actual published author sprouted in my mind. Why? Because I left the dark room to talk to other writers. To meet people, who are making a living, doing what you’ve always thought you should be doing, who talk to you like an equal? That’s inspiration.
When I arrived home, my creativity sparked into my first short story in my new life as a writer. Woot! I created something. Something worth sharing. Now what? I could keep writing in my little bubble and pat myself on the back. After all, if you don’t try, you can’t fail, right?
I made a conscious decision NOT to lock myself to my keyboard alone, isolated. Even if I NEVER want to publish, being close to other writers inspired me to create the best thing I had attempted yet. I liked that feeling. I decided to go one step further. Referring to advice from Dragon Con, I searched for a writers guild in my area. The Houston Writers Guild popped up with an annual convention in April. I joined and attended the convention. I met the most interesting, generous, and hardworking people whose journey paralleled mine in so many ways. I could no longer consider myself alone.
Why is it important to interact with fellow authors? Well…sometimes, I have a hard time getting into the flow of writing. When I finally get there, I don’t want to stop. The lack of discipline made me feel like a failure. Turns out, this is a common issue with authors. Maybe I’m not a failure after all. I couldn’t seem to finish the draft of my first novel. I’m not even sure why I’m sitting in front of this keyboard. “Why not try turning off your inner editor and just keep typing until it’s done?” a fellow guild member recommended. And, like the magic woven in the novel, I finished it. Turns out, it’s much easier to revise a complete story than it is to turn a blank page into a written page. Another common writer issue.
This whole time I thought I was the only one, because none of my friends were writers and they didn’t understand why I didn’t have dozens of books published with all the hours I spend at this. Nothing is more soul crushing than the people you love and who mean well, shaking their heads at you. These people, the ones in the guild, the ones at the conventions, they UNDERSTOOD. They have been there or are there. They nod their heads in agreement. They pat you on the back. They are the support that holds you up as you organize words into full fledged stories. Creations that others want to read.
I’m now a member of two guilds, a participant in a critique group, a follower of an online support group, and an active alumni of the Dragon Con Writers Workshop. Imaginary progress has morphed into real works. I celebrate the successes of the friends I have met as they cheer me on. I’m still a struggling writer and probably always will be, but I’m not alone.
Tired of doing it by yourself. Join a group. We’re out there and we welcome you.