A Little Help From My Friends
**warning: sentimental ramblings coming your way in 3…2…1…**
Writing is a solitary process.
We writers (hunched over desks, faces lit by the bluish glow of our computer screens, mumbling to ourselves about coffeeses and deadlineses and preciouses… Oh wait, that’s Gollum. Anyway…) spend hours working alone, wadded up tight inside our imaginations with the characters that live there. It’s a necessity. Those hours spent holed up, butt in the chair, eyes on the page, are a major part of where books come from.
But they’re also a little isolating, a little lonesome, a little like riding an ever-tightening spiral deeper and deeper into the maze of your own head, that labyrinth populated by flashes of “Yes! This is awesome! I’m rocking it!” and pits of “Haha omg everything is awful what am I even doing,” dotted by tangled patches of frustration briars and epic slopes to sprint down, writing like the freaking wind, expect then you get to the bottom, lift your head, look back and ask, “Wait, is this even good?”
Writing is emotionally fraught. We love it. (We hate it.) We’re proud. (We’re swallowed by self-doubt.) We’re excited. (We’re anxious.) And that’s all before you throw in the swooping highs and plunging lows of publishing. (What if I never get an agent? What if my book never sells? What if everyone hates it? What if they love it but I never manage to write something people love again?)
Which is another sort of necessity. If you want readers to feel something when they read your work, you need to feel it, too, right? I mean, writing a book is a little like excising a (squishy, quivering) part of your soul, printing it on paper, then chucking it out into the world where people may love it, ignore it, or grind it into tiny bits beneath their cruel and disparaging heel.
Haha. Ha. Ahh…
Yeah. Writing isn’t easy. Publishing isn’t easy. So, the point of this post: Find your friends*.
You’ve probably heard this before. And I admit, whenever I read this advice in the past, it made me a little sad. Making friends isn’t always easy. Life is busy. Finding people can be hard. Opening up to them can be harder. Before selling my debut, I struggled to find writer friends. Geography, day job, imposter syndrome, social anxiety; the list can be long, the hurdles high.
But one of the absolute best side-effects of selling my first book** has been meeting so many incredible fellow writers. People who are lovely and welcoming and who get it. People who cheer for and listen to and support me. People I can cheer for, listen to, and support right back. People who understand those highs and lows, who’ve been in that labyrinth, and who will still be there for me regardless what happens with this book or the next one or whatever may happen after that. People I’ll still be there for, too.
Finding these people has made debut year manageable, because I know that whatever maze/spiral/cave I find myself in, I’m not alone.
So, people: THANK YOU.
*I’m not talking about agents and editors and all of those incredible and talented people who push you and help you, who invest their time and energy and expertise in making you a better writer and your book a better book. This post isn’t about (my unending gratitude for) them.
**You absolutely do not need to be agented or published or even want to be agented or published to find a fantastic group of writer friends. I struggled with this, but less because I needed to have sold a book to find those people and more because I didn’t push myself to reach out before I did.