Several years ago, I was talking to a friend about where I was in life, and where I wanted to go. I was happy with my day job, my marriage, and my friendships. And even though I felt that I hadn’t yet fulfilled my potential as a writer, I was working on it. I did feel one significant gap, however.
“I wish I knew some other writers,” I told my friend.
At the time, I had a couple of friends who liked to write, but they weren’t actively submitting for publication, as I was. They weren’t spending their vacation time at writers’ conferences, or taking night classes in poetry. I’d grown up feeling isolated in my extreme book-love, and my venturing into the sciences for my day job hadn’t helped. Now, it’s not the case that scientists eschew the arts as a matter of course. I’d befriended a chemist who played the guitar, and a geologist who danced, and a toxicologist with a serious interest in photography. And I had discovered a few more people who liked to write. But I wanted to find people who were making, or trying to make, a career out of writing.
I was, in that sense, lonely. I had a real craving to find others who understood this world—and not only understood it, but lived it. Who knew what it felt like to get rejection after rejection. Who got why a handwritten note scrawled on the bottom of a rejection slip was cause for excitement. Who had fictional characters babbling in their minds, and hated killing them off, but knew it was sometimes necessary. Who shared the thrill of finding the perfect simile.
It happened slowly. I went to more conferences and forced my introverted self to talk to people—none of whom bit my head off, and a couple of whom became close friends. I joined SCBWI and then a critique group. And then social media boomed, providing a 24-hour virtual water cooler where I could always chat (or commiserate, or celebrate) with like-minded people. I’ve developed such a congenial group that sometimes it’s hard for me to remember exactly which people I’ve met in real life, and which ones I only know online.
I’m extremely grateful for this network, for people who love books and reading and writing so much that they will engage in passionate arguments about werewolves vs. vampires, or why boys don’t read more, or how we can diversify our literature, or what censorship is. I’m grateful for people who spend their spare time reading books and writing up their observations on blogs. For experts who provide online tips. For writers who talk so honestly about the more frustrating parts of this crazy occupation. For people who provide supportive comments and send fan mail and recommend books to me.
My wish came true: I have met some other writers! And, equally wonderfully: dedicated readers, teachers, booksellers, editors, agents, and librarians.
And so it seems fitting this month that we’re running some giveaways, to celebrate this spirit of community and to thank those of you who share our journey by reading this blog. If you haven’t entered already, click here.