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C is for Community

July 11, 2012

As I write this, I just added Chris Coward’s post about the conference this fall, specifically about the interview process. I also read a blog post by Jane Friedman about approaching acquisitions editors. Jane’s post, in particular, set me to remembering my experience at previous conferences. As much as I want to complete something and sell it, most of my memories involve the writery people I’ve forged relationships with.

I know I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: if you think writing is a solitary endeavor, you’re dead right–and absolutely dead wrong.

Unless you’re writing as part of a team, the words you put to paper are yours and yours alone. They’re most likely put there as you sit in a room with no one else–or you sit in a room with other people doing other things. In that, writing is a solitary activity.

The life of a writer…solitary.

But if you follow any writers on Facebook, you’ll see that when they attend conferences, they tend to congregate. Sometimes, the only differences between this year’s conference pictures and last year’s are the clothing, the weight gained or lost, the hairlines receding, and the exact lineup of writers in the pictures.

Or not.

When I attend Jamie Morris’s writing seminars, the writing is great, but the chance to connect with other writer’s is just as big a selling point.

The writers you hang with who are further along than you have gone through what you’re going through. The writers behind you will go through what you’re going through. And there’s a reason that most writers are incredibly generous with other writers.

Writing is not a neat linear progression. It’s a generally forward process that confounds and discourages you at various points. Sometimes seeing someone struggling with the same things that are dogging you can help you get through it. Sometimes seeing people who’ve overcome those struggles is equally helpful.

And sometimes the best thing is to pay the kindness and generosity you’ve felt forward to other writers.

Regardless, it’s easier to get through with a group of like-minded people than it is to get through alone.

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