Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Category Archives: community

Just What I Needed

We had our local convention this past weekend, and with all the busy-ness and stress that my day job has been affording me this past week or two, it was nice to get a break. Friday I was not in a great mindset, but by the end of the day, I succumbed to the environment of creativity and fun that reminded me that there is more to life. We sold a good number of “Common and Precious” at the con and I signed a few of them–thanks to everyone who bought! A couple people were nice enough to ask what I’m working on next, which is a great compliment. One of my goals for this year is to get a short story or two out there, whether to Amazon Shorts or to another publication. In any case, it was just the perfect time for me to be steeped in another world and remember the importance of these parts of my life.

There are a lot of challenges ahead of us this year (“us” here includes me, my partner, my writing group, and all of you). I think I have a few posts to come about marketing yourself, persistence, and networking, which all go hand in hand and are sometimes thought of derogatorily as “the business of writing.” For now, though, I just want to make the observation I have before, which is that although writing happens as a solitary activity, it doesn’t require a solitary life.

Writer Support

Our travels took us to Minneapolis to visit friends, coincidentally at around the time Kelly McCullough, of the excellent Wyrdsmiths blog, was doing a reading and signing at Dreamhaven Books and Comics. We made a trip down there and arrived just in time to hear Kelly read from his latest book (which is due out this summer), the third in the “Webmage” series.

We enjoyed the reading a lot. Kelly’s writing is snappy and fun, with a good sense of humor, and his world is a complex and entertaining one–sort of like Tim Powers meets Douglas Adams, if you can imagine that. I picked up both his books and will be reviewing them in this space as soon as I work through some of the rest of my stack.

I wanted to talk more about the community of writers and how important it is. Several of the people at the reading were clearly friends of Kelly and familiar with his work, and though I didn’t confirm this, I suspect many of them were other Wyrdsmiths writers. The same was true at my book signing, and I think from what I’ve been reading of signings that it’s not uncommon across the board, unless your first initials happen to be “J.K.” and your last name “Rowling.” And I think that speaks to the importance of having other writers in your circle, not just so that they can critique your work, but so that you have someone to commiserate with and celebrate with, someone to go to your book signings and someone whose book signings you can attend. Writing is a solitary act by its nature, but appreciating writing can be very communal, and in fact, that’s how many books gain popularity. The “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” phenomenon took off because women in local book clubs were falling in love with the book and discussing it, not because it was promoted by the publisher–but that’s another story.

The moral is, if you’re a writer, go find other writers. This is one of those cases where I think online-only communities don’t substitute for real life. Our New Fables workshop meets bi-weekly, and we only take new members who are local and enthusiastic enough to show up for most of the meetings. That community has been a big help. The best part of taking classes at Stanford was learning how workshops work so Kevin and I could put that workshop together, and meeting other people who shared an interest in writing to keep in touch with.

Who helps you write? How did you find your communities? Or do you not have one and need one?