OK-so, the title of my post is dumb. This is my third blog post this week--fifth if you count the ones I've posted to YALITCHAT.ORG (shameless but necessary plug--I'm not just a client, I'm also the President). :-)
This post is about the community of writers that has come to mean so much to me of which YALTICHAT.ORG is a major part. Because writing is normally a solitary profession and also quite competitive, I believe it's important to have a support system of people who understand you as a person, a writer and who understand the business well enough to "get" what you're going through.
Most often, it is hard to talk to friends, family and even spouses about the life of writing. So we would rather just smile or shrug it off and say nothing. Many of us tell few people about the work we're doing or the books we're working on for fear of ridicule--especially if it's something in the science fiction, fantasy or paranormal genres. You know what I mean right? How about you saucy romance folks? Afraid to let your neighbor beta read your work for fear they might think you're a little too pervy to let little Johnny come over and play?
The life of a writer is not always all it's cracked up to be. We need to be around our own. We need community. This is my story. This is how I survive.
Let me tell you about the first writer's group I ever joined. The Blue Boards online. The first writer I ever spoke to, the one who turned me on to it was Maggie Steifvater. This was back before SHIVER and LINGER and the like. Maggie was nice enough to point me in that direction. In doing so, she did two things for me. She showed me that being a writer is not just about climbing the ladder of personal success (being in it for you), but it's about helping others along the way. This is something I will never ever forget and a story I will always tell. The other thing she did was open me up to an experience unlike one I was not used to. I've been on boards before but none so welcoming and free-flowing with people willing to share with, help and support one another. It was so unlike the music business where I'd come from.
Then I joined SCBWI and started to interact online with my regional Carolinas chapter. And let me tell you--even if you don't ever have a chance to attend a conference (which I highly recommend you attempt at least once) just knowing that this group of folks is there (virtually and in some cases physically) to talk to, vent to, listen to and celebrate with online makes my writing journey that much sweeter. I love reading my daily digest of group posts from our regional chapter. It reads like a page from a motivational speaker's speech. No matter how big or small, we celebrate one another's achievements, reviews, signings, appearances, sales, agentings, releases, joinings, awards, etc. I'll be the first to admit. I'm not nearly as active as most members. But I am a member and appreciative of all I've learned at the conferences and the community that it affords me. I've personally made friends with a few members and my daughter has a new friend too as a result!
I want to brag a little about some of our group's members and their recent achievements. I hope I don't leave anyone out!
Carrie Ryan continues to celebrate the success of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH AND THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES.
John Claude Beamis in Publishers Weekly (digital w/ photo) and a short piece about his CLOCKWORK DARK Trilogy.
David Gill celebrates the release of BLACK HOLE SUN (blurbed by Suzanne Collins).
Elanora E. Tate is included in the September issue of Our State Magazine.
Carole Boston Weatherford to receive the North Carolina award. Highest award for a civilian in North Carolina!
Tameka Fryer Brown is featured in an interview on Cynsations!
Beth Revis celebrates release of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE on 1.1.2011!
Kelly Starling Lyons celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the Million Man March with a blog tour featuring her picture book, ONE MILLION MEN AND ME!
If I've missed anyone (FROM SCBWIC) who is celebrating or needs to be celebrated, please, please, please know that is is simply the result of old lady brain. EMAIL me and let me know and I will add you ASAP.
And then there are my writer girlfriends who I consider "my heart." These are the people who I very much adore and celebrate daily. I also respect them tremendously as writers, women and take advice from them as to what to do not only about my work but my kids and my marriage and for whom I am eternally grateful to have in my personal and professional life.
Michelle Zink has just completed a tour for the release of GUARDIAN OF THE GATE. Not having her around to text with several times a day was like going through withdrawal. Welcome back!
Nancy Holder is celebrating the release of CRUSADE. I'm giving away a copy at YALITCHAT.ORG.
A.S. King is gearing up for the release of PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. Don't take my word for the awesomeness that awaits you. It received a Booklist starred review!
And then there are people that I don't get to talk to quite as often but when I do, I always feel better. These people are the real deal--genuine, trust-worthy and just plain fun. I appreciate you.
Alyson Noel is celebrating the release of SHADOWLAND in paperback and RADIANCE. Quite by accident and via Twitter we discovered that we are actually sisters separated at birth. imagine that.
Cynthia Leitch Smith Yes, I know I still owe you a guest blog post. Cynthia is a genuinely nice, smart and intellectually intriguing person. She has listened and offered help to me without asking for anything in return and for that I'm quite appreciative. Her sound advice helped me see what was right in front of me like a coconut being dropped on my head. Looking forward to BLESSED in 2011!
Dawn Metcalf is awesome and supportive in all kinds of ways. She comes through for me when I need a co-host for #YALITCHAT on twitter and our countless conversations about the industry and writing have been entertaining, informative and sometimes heartbreaking. I want the best for this truly amazing woman and look forward to the release of her book.
Jeanne V. Bowerman is co-founder and moderater of @SCRIPTCHAT and one of the niceset, most talented people I know. She is genuine, kind and good-hearted. If you are lucky enough to be a friend, you will find that she is free with advice, support and true friendship and not one of these high on themselves, too busy types. She is truly deserving of the success I know that is on her way.
Colleen Lindsay is celebrating a new job and freedom from agenting! She has been a friend, an industry mentor and a very supportive advisor to me personally. She has even helped me rewrite my query and strengthen the first chapter of my first novel. An avid supporter of #YALITCHAT from the start and even now that she's no longer an agent, she continues to use her influence to support us and me. I appreciate you and hope you know how much.
Michelle Wolfson is being awesome and celebrating the success of PARANORMALCY! She is kind, supportive and always willing to do what she can to help. Michelle has made herself available to me on weekends to talk agent submissions from the YALITCHAT.ORG Agent Mailbox and even advise me on my career goals. She's the real deal.
Laura Renegar and I share a love of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and I think a crush on Patrick Dempsey. We can't stop ourselves from tweeting one another on Thursday nights in season or the day after the shows air. Sadly we also talk a lot about our journey to publication which for both of us has been a struggle. She is a supportive and caring friend who also shares my love for Chick-Fil-A. I appreciate you, Laura.
JJ is wise beyond her years yet vulnerable and sweet. She's become a friend and mentor though I am a few years older than her (just a few). I know I can vent, rant and rave to her when and if I need to and she'll listen. She may not have the answers but she'll listen and have my back. You need that in this business.
Elan Roth and I met at an SCBWIC conference in Durham, NC. We talked for over an hour. She had previously rejected my query. We became friends that day. Why? Because I wasn't trying to get her to like me or be my agent. I was just happy to talk to someone from home (NYC), someone who understood me and my City-Girl ways, someone I could be myself with. We don't see eye-to-eye on everything and have even accidentally argued. Total misunderstanding. I was actually trying to cyber protect her. But what I do know is this. Elana and I have each other's backs. Yeah. I use that phrase a lot. I can call her when I need to and vent and vice versa. 'Cause sometimes you need to drop a few f'bombs on someone who gets you.
Megan Curd who was hired as the very first YALITCHAT.ORG intern. Though she is no longer an intern, Megan and I became very good friends and colleagues. We can talk about anything. She's a good egg!
Maggie Mo is always encouraging and friendly. That she is somewhat local to me but not close enough to visit makes me sad. She's the kind of person you see and just want to hug because life and love radiate from her.
Finally there is the 1700+ community at YALITCHAT.ORG. You complete me. Never before have I been so happy to engage with people and feel like I can just let my virtual hair down and be myself online. To my MODS, I love you for letting me be myself with all my imperfections. Lee-thanks for letting me know when I look like a fool with my pants on the ground!
Community makes writing better. Knowing that others out there are going through what you are is so powerful. Take time to reach out to others like you, who write in your genre. Maybe you won't need to use Google so much. Maybe you can ask someone who has been there and done that. Maybe they can tell you better which is the best choice or how to do something you've been struggling with. Make connections so you be a writer and a better you.
And in case you're wondering--all of the above people I've met initially online and then (some) in person. You CAN make real connections online. But be sure to get off the computer and pick up the phone, write a handwritten note, see a film, go to lunch, be a contributor to society beyond your writing. Beware of cyber stalkers and emotional drains on your energy and time. Most of all, have fun. If this has helped you in any way or you have something to contribute, comment and share!