What does a writer need…in addition to a room of her own and money to live on? Community.
She needs other writers to talk to, online or in person. She needs readers to let her know if the message is getting through or not. She needs friends who remind her of why she is doing this crazy thing.
If there are to be resolutions this year—unlikely—then they are about building community with other writers, readers and friends.
While the writing itself must be done alone, the sharing of ideas sparks writing juice like having 220 volts instead of 110. When my friend tells me that he has learned a trick about being stuck on a story, that the problem is that he doesn’t know something about the story that he needs to know, that tells me what I need to look for. Finding the holes is critical to filling them in or leaving them as gaps for tension and suspense. But if I don’t know where that hole is, or what goes in it, I can’t begin to use it.
It really hurts when someone posts a review that shows that you missed some holes or did not do a good job of weaving the threads of the story together in a meaningful pattern. But what a gift to see how they read it! I wrote back to a blogger and asked for more specifics, and felt very honored to get an honest, if not uplifting, review. I know more now of what to work on, and she’s not the only one to mention it. I’m not going to revise Maven I, but I’m working to avoid those problems in Maven II.
Having supportive friends and family who have some idea of what it takes to coalesce a story from the images in one’s mind and capture those fleeting impressions and snatches of music into black symbols on a white screen is immeasurably important. If they are willing to share in your thoughts, if you don’t drive them nuts by talking about your story all the time, they help you with broader perspectives on the issues you want to explore—even if, especially if they challenge your own taboos.
I am grateful and lucky today to have visited with friends and family over the holidays and to have received the kinds of support and affirmation that I did not even realize that I needed.
But the most wonderful gift of all was a review from a blog tour host, who said that after laughing her way through Maven, she went back to review her new year’s resolutions—she wanted to be careful what she wished for.
Thank you, Universe, you sly thing, for everything.