Articles About Authors with Day Jobs:
Lapham's Quarterly - Dayjobs
Huffington Post - 11 Authors Who Kept Their Dayjobs
Writer's Digest - Before They Were Famous
Mental Floss - Early Jobs of 24 Famous Writers
Buzzfeed - Famous Authors and Their Dayjobs
Did You Click Buzzfeed - That Was a Test
Stop Reading Buzzfeed Articles - Go Write
No Seriously - Go Write
So this was my first week back at work. About two minutes after I stepped into the building, I started a conversation with a co-worker and mentioned my writing room.
"Oh, are you still writing that series?" she asked.
"Yes?" I said.
Then she gave the look. If you're a writer with a day job, you know what look I'm talking about. It's the look that reminds you how your dreams are silly little things.
It's difficult to be in an environment where no one knows how serious you're taking this, how hard you work to keep both the day job and the night job going, or who you really are and where you're going.
I once said to a friend that there is a fine line between the deluded and the successful when it comes to art.
So it's important to remember, fellow dayjobbers, that our coworkers do not define us. Our daily chores do not make us failures. And if we want it bad enough, we need to remember that there are a hundred thousand people who did it before us. If we want this for ourselves, then we need to stick to it and stand on our own and make it a priority in our lives.
So here, I'm making rules for us:
1. If you have time to write, then write. One author shared his story of writing seven hours straight on the days he had off. You don't get a day off if this is what you want.
2. Don't worry about how others define you. Remember, everyone has a job and no one's life is completely encompassed in their job.
3. Don't feel guilty for taking time to make your writing a priority. You cannot always live for other people.
4. No one has a for-sure success in the future. Everyone, even J.K. Rowling and Margaret Atwood, has at some point felt like a loser and wondered if it was worth it. So make it worth it (and by the way, Rowling was on welfare/worked as a teacher before that, and Atwood was a coffee shop barista).
5. Set deadlines for yourself and do not allow yourself to waver or come up short. Give it your best shot so you won't regret anything.
6. Ask those around you in your personal life to support you. If they love you, they will support you.
7. Make friends in your writing community, even if it's just online. In 2014, I don't think it's "just online," I think it's a huge resource.
8. Give yourself a writing space or a place to go write. Turn off the internet. Focus. If you can't write, then read. Blog. Network. But for God's sake, do not Buzzfeed.
9. Believe in yourself. Advocate for yourself. Love yourself.
10. Finally, submit. Nothing will come of you just sitting there type type typin'. Even if you get a rejection, you're having a conversation with the external writing world.
Have a great year, everyone. And if you need a day job writer friend, you know where to find me.
Workshopping Others' Work
How nice should I be? How mean should I be? I'm editing my classmates' stuff, and I'm used to editing as an editor with a client I am working for. And yes, you as the editor must have a bit of teamwork in that kind of relationship with your client, but at the end of the day, you've either been given many moneys to help that client for your expertise, or you have been hired by a publisher because you know what you're doing. There's confidence in that role. Now I'm sitting not as an editor, but as a classmate, a peer. If I'm too mean, then maybe I'm being precocious. If I'm too nice, then maybe I'm not doing my assignment correctly. Without knowing the culture of the school or how MFA programs work, I might just dip into pro-mode and start giving notes on what must change before this can be published ... before I remember that's not my place in this case.
Getting torn apart in Workshop
So in this program, you submit your manuscript about three months before you actually go to workshop. I've completely revised the crappy manuscript I turned in, working with other editors and writer pals to get it to a better place. Now that I look at my old draft, I am so afraid of what is to come at this workshop. I want to give one of those taboo disclaimers, where I stand up and wave my arms in the air and shout, "I know it sucks! I just worked twelve weeks making it not suck! Please God don't think I suck!" But we all know I wouldn't ever do that ...
Being a Noob
I'm not gonna lie. I am hella awkward when I don't know anyone in a situation. And I know this is a stupid thing to worry about. I'm an adult! I am like three years away from being thirty, I have a full-time career, I have published a book and plays and have traversed some of the scariest American cities all by myself. I worked at a publishing company for three years. I freelance edit. I've started two writing groups. I teach Creative Writing. I have no bed time, damn it!
I am so scared of coming off like a faker, like a false writer, like an idiot who just finally learned what a chapbook looks like. I have this inexplicable fear of showing up and taking one look at everyone and realizing that while I know my stuff, they all got into a secret club long ago; a club to which I received no invite. I know this is stupid, but how as an adult, do I still worry about who I'm going to sit with at the lunch table?
Being Away from Home
Again, a stupid one for a grown woman. My fiance just moved up to this town. We haven't been separated since we ended our Long Distance Relationship three months ago. And now, a week, before I'm about to leave, our friend has died. I'm missing my friend's memorial game night to go to this residency, and I'm leaving behind a fiance who has just realized that mortality exists and we all are doomed to say goodbye to one another. I also will not lie: I slept in a blanket fort last night, because my friend made blanket forts, and when bad things happen, blanket forts sound like the best thing ever and you just want to sit in one and drink mounds of pop out of a Twizzler straw. The idea of leaving home right now is a tough one, but life has to carry on and we have to carry ourselves with it. Oh, happy day!
Not Packing the Right Stuff
So I'm flying to Maine. I have to fit everything I need into like a suitcase. I've never been to Maine, and I've never been to these dorms or this college. I've heard I need a fan. Other than that, I do not know. What if I forget an important book? What if I forget my toothbrush? What if I forget my homework?!
Honesty, again: I plan to glomp onto the nicest, most patient upperclassman I can find and just tail them for the entire ten days. In the unfortunate event I cannot find a willing upperclassman, what will become of me? I will miss a bus. I will miss a class. I will miss food. I will miss the really cool hangout where everyone gets to know each other. I will get lost in Portland and no one will ever find me again!
Not Realizing How Stupid It Was to Worry Until It's Too Late
I've heard that the Stonecoast residency is "like coming home." From the people I've met, they're so very nice.
I've been thinking a lot about my friend. I met them --- and yes, I am using them out of respect, not out of improper grammar --- on Facebook before I moved away to undergraduate. I was so nervous, not knowing what awaited me in Chicago and this university where fancy things happened and fancy strangers attended. So I reached out, to the people on Facebook who were also going to be freshmen in the fall. This was 2006, so there was actually a spot to write which dorm you were in, and so I searched people who would be living down the hall from me.
My friend was one of these people.
Looking back on our very first conversation via chat, because we live in the world of technological ghosts, I see that we were both very nervous about leaving home and going into the great perhaps. I barely knew the person who would become my friend. They were nothing but a stranger on Facebook, and I couldn't think of a scenario where college was an actual day-to-day, real-life thing I would excel at.
Now, eight years later, my friend and I had our last conversation a week ago, before they were taken. Our last conversation, funnily enough, was about that first year of college and who we'd roomed with. We reminisced on the hard parts, but also the good parts. We didn't know it would be our last conversation.
But that conversation was full of good memories. Although we'd been nervous about moving to the city and taking on the world, we'd done it. We both found happiness. We both grew into strong adults. We both had been brave enough to take that step into adventure and friendship.
Now I feel that anxiety again, starting a new chapter and a new program. I've met people on Facebook in preparation, and I feel as if I'm about to make a whole new bunch of friends. I can't imagine my day-to-day life being in a place far away that I've never seen in a program I've never experienced.
But eight years from now, I'll look back on this list of worries, and I'll laugh. Because new adventures are always frightening, but they're always worth it.
To all of you starting your MFA Programs, may the odds be in our favor.
A few weeks ago, Alex and I took a trip to Disney World.
I hadn't been there since I was like a year old, so my memory is fuzzy when it comes to the finer points of Disney travel.
For some reason, I assumed that the entirety of Winter Gardens, etc., would be just as beautiful as the Disney property. In my true naive fashion, I assumed that Florida's Welcome Sign was a cardboard set of Mouse Ears that said, "WELCOME, Y'ALL."
Not the case.
Now for those of you who have never been to Disney, I'll paint this picture for you. On the way to the park, you go down this highway that is lined shoulder-to-shoulder with the skeeziest, most awful stores imaginable. For some pictures of the skeeze and just how awful one's experience can be, check this blog entry from a Disney traveling blog. Big garish wizard heads, ugly plastic giraffes the size of apartment complexes, and big yellow signs reading CHEAP TICKETS CHEAP TICKETS.
Leeches flocked to the gates of Disney.
This was even sadder when we had to drive through it again to get back to the hotel. It was sad, because for those of you who haven't gone to Disney, the Magic Kingdom re-instills your faith in humanity. Cast Members are paid next to nothing, but they still work at the park because they believe in Disney's message of hope and kindness. The Imagineers believe in creating a home we all miss but never really knew. The whole resort revolves around pushing themselves so hard that you as a well-paying guest can come in and really get whisked away to a dream world.
There is a great give-and-take in the business of Disney World. You pay the money, they give you what you paid for. They are honest and true and classy when it comes to their product, and they uphold everyone on property to that same standard.
The highway outside does not. And the realization that people would set up faux ticket shops in the shadows of such a magical place just made me sad again. As soon as we exited the resort property, we were slapped in the face once more by cynicism, deceit, and all around shadiness.
I guess what I learned from this experience is how to carry my own "business" in the world. For anyone with a twitter account, you know there are legitimate people out there who try their best to gain followers, connect with other writers, and share their thoughts on a wonderful social media platform. Then there are others who don't know how to conduct their business. They spam you with automatic DMs, they promote their books with enough hashtags to break the pound sign on their keyboards, and they buy followers.
If you are a writer, be Disney World. Don't be the creepy plastic wizard store five feet from Disney. Believe in yourself, hold your head high, and conduct your business with class. People will recognize it, and people will follow you and buy your product.
I know a lot of us are still learning, and I think we shouldn't be hard on ourselves when we mess up, but we need to push forward to make our social media persona as good as possible. Let's all help each other out, let's all learn from each other, and let's be the good in the world.
Stay classy, internet.
So my good friend Mardra Sikora (check her out here) is asking us all to do a blog hop. I've never participated in a blog hop, but why not? I'll just make it writer-related.
The question that she poses is "What are you grateful for?" So here are ten things that I am grateful for.
Also. Here is a picture of Estes Park. Because it's pretty, and I am also grateful for Estes Park. Always be grateful for Estes Park.
10. Characters taking over.
I am grateful for this one time, when I had a character who just took over the story. I still remember sitting there, screaming at my computer going, "Why did you do that?! Why oh why did you do that?! Bad things can only come of this!" It was the opposite of what I thought the character was going to do. But I am so glad he went off track and did what he did, because it taught me that characters (when written correctly) will do what they do, and you lose control over what they do. I've met authors who scoff at this, but think about it: you're creating another living, breathing human. Of course that human is going to spiral out of your control and make his own decisions. Welcome to parenting.
9. Victor Frankenstein, Sirius Black, and Boxer the Horse
I am grateful for the characters who grabbed my attention in other books and got me interested in writing my own characters. We all have them. For me, it was a workhorse in third grade, a mad scientist in fifth grade, and Harry's godfather in sixth grade (and if I spoiled Harry Potter for you, I'm not sorry, because it's been out for twenty years now). There were others, but these are the guys who leaped out of the pages and throttled me by the neck and said, "Look at us! We're awesome! You can write awesome people, too!" And so I tried to.
8. Radical Face and my best friend's mix CD's.
I write to music. Who doesn't? But sometimes music means more than just pretty background noise. Sometimes music can teach you how to tell a story and use metaphors and emotions to manipulate the audience to your whim. Cry, audience, cry! Yes, the tears ...
Oh, don't pretend like you aren't excited when people cry at your stuff.
For those of you who don't know Radical Face, you need to. Here's a link. This music taught me how to write short stories just as much as my undergraduate workshops did. See, this guy is a genius and he says so much with so little. Another good one is Josh Ritter. And there's a chock-a-block of amazing storytellers in the weird, warped music my writing partner and best friend in college handed off to me throughout the years. Now when I hear the Decemberists or Avett Brothers or Mountain Goats, I get the itch to write. Honestly, I think the mixes my friend made for me and their inspiration had less to do with the music on the mixes themselves, but more to do with the fact that someone cared enough about me to push me to write and force me to expand my horizons.
7. The people who push me to write and force me to expand my horizons.
And there are a lot of them. First, there was Gramma and Mom, who taught me to read and write when I was two and then taught me how a story is written when I was three. I still remember Gramma and me reading through a Berenstain Bears book, and I asked, "How does the author know when to change paragraphs?"
"Well, he feels it," Gramma said. "I suppose when an author writes so much, he just knows."
"Do you think I could do that?" I asked, and of course my Gramma, who thought I could do anything, said, "Of course. You can do anything."
Mom held me to a high standard, even when I was a kid. At eleven, I was way deep into writing long speculative fiction. Every night, I would hand her a chapter and ask her, "Tell me if you got bored." In the morning, it was like opening up the New York Times to find a review. Actually, it was worse than the Times. My mom was brutal.
"It didn't really pique my attention," she'd say. "And didn't you steal that idea from something else?"
As I grew up, there were teachers that joined the mix. Tracy, who shut the lights off in the room and put the music on and made us open up our imaginations. Brian, who is the main reason why I went into playwriting and shoved myself into DePaul (and got into Stonecoast). David, who gave me an internship and my first published piece. Steinbruck and Jorgenson, who put on my little plays and made me try out for contests that I never won. Christine, who actually believed I could play with the big boys and was worth something. Martinez, John, Don, and now Nancy.
But there were also friends.
Upon arriving in Chicago, I met another playwriting major. She was working on a YA steampunk novel before anyone really knew what steampunk was. Actually, four years later when I first heard the term, I called her and said, "Oh! That's what you were doing!"
She has long moved away and began her next adventure, but those four years we spent in Chicago together were the most formative years of my writing existence. I showed up in the city as a little girl who thought I was weird because I wrote weird stuff, and I left the city with an armful of movies, books, and music to prove to me that I was not alone. She took my writing seriously; sometimes more seriously than me. We actually dropped out of a class together and sat at a coffee shop across the street and discussed different characters and archs and plots and symbols. We believed it all mattered. She believed it all mattered. And because of her, it did matter.
6. Nature and Wordsworth.
I am not a poet. I will never claim to be a poet. I have friends who are poets, and they are very good. I am not a poet.
That said, you can imagine how painful poetry classes could be for me. I did not get it, I did not want to get it, and I actually spent most of my time in poetry classes learning to be ambidextrous in my notebook as I sat in the back of the class (sorry, Professor, I never said it was a smart move).
But then came 19th Century British Literature. And thus followed Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey."
I think "Tintern Abbey" completely revolutionized the content of my writing. It was like someone a hundred and fifty years ago totally got what I felt about the city and how much I missed my home. There's always been a definitive struggle inside of me as a person: to live in the hustle and bustle that will give me opportunity and make me successful, or try to be happy in the countryside that I was born into. Wordsworth didn't give me any closure on that conflict, but he did vocalize it beautifully. Shortly after, I started playing with this juxtaposition of nature versus industrial city, and most of my work since then has had some sort of semblance of that poem.
We all should read more poetry.
5. Laptops, pop, library stalls, writing desks, and Hershey bars.
I am grateful for all the little things that help me write. I started off with paper stapled together, and my hand could never keep up with my brain. The fact that laptops exist, they're portable, and they don't weigh as much as a brick now ... all good things for me. Also, chocolate. Because chocolate. And always chocolate.
4. Having a job that allows me to create stories all day long.
I'm lucky. I don't work behind a desk. I won't say much about my day job, but I get to create and I get to help others create and that makes me happy.
3. Getting into Stonecoast.
I always wanted an MFA in Creative Writing, and now I get to have one. But turns out that Stonecoast was the best option and I really lucked out. I know that I'd be miserable writing lit fic and having to quit my job and move across the country to an undisclosed location. It's just not for me right now. But Stonecoast fits in with my life and the people there are writing what I write. Someone's writing steampunk and another is writing adult spec and another is writing solarpunk and another is working on a space opera. How amazing is that?!
I think it's amazing.
Not only is Stonecoast awesome, but I got in. And I had the courage to try for an MFA and I had those recommenders who helped me through the process (Brian, John, Christine, and Jen ... notice they're the teachers who were mentioned earlier). I had support from them and my wonderful Alex, and I did it. I really did it.
2. The complication in my current book series.
I won't talk about it, because I don't want to spoil it. But my current project had this moment where it was being written, and something brilliant happened, and I had that moment where a writer thinks, "Oh. This is actually going to work. This is actually special."
I love that moment. And I am so grateful when it comes. Not all projects get that moment. A lot don't. But if you ever do feel that relief that you have that "spark" in your manuscript, you thank your lucky stars. You didn't just waste the last year of your life typing random words in random order on a random word doc.
So when it happened, I just sat back and smiled. And then I kept writing.
1. All of the many pages I've cut and never used.
For just the last book I wrote, I know that I have discarded over 1,000 pages of writing.
Since the age of nine, I've worked on about twenty full-length manuscripts and playscripts.
Out of those twenty, about five of them have been published or produced. And honestly, about three of them are stories I would consider awesome and worth anything.
I am always really sad when I write something in vain. I am always really sad when I work on something for a year and then I find out it's trash and I scrap it. But there's always this comfort in knowing that every word I write --- no matter how awful that word was --- propels me forward into growing and maturing as a writer.
I am grateful for all of the words that no one will read. I am grateful for all of the awful, teeth-grating scenes I wrote and slaved over, just to delete them or stick them in a "maybe" folder, just to have that "maybe" folder turn into a "never" folder or a "oh yeah, I forgot this was here" folder. I am grateful for all of the characters who lived so others could live more vibrantly. And I am grateful for all of the misspelled words and weak dialogue and funky chapter breaks that are lost to the times.
Because they made me who I am. They were just one more step in the right direction.
So what are you grateful for?
Yes, that above metaphor does make sense, and yes, I will explain it.
So for those of you who may not know, I applied for MFA programs this year. And boy oh boy, did I learn a lot. I think one particular lesson is important for all writers to keep in mind, regardless if they're putting themselves on the front lines of admissions or submitting to a dream publication or agent.
Writing is not getting accepted. Writing is not being told it's good. Writing is not getting everything you want. Writing is simply writing.
Ooo, let me do my metaphor now.
So in my personal life, I am getting married. I know, exciting, we've been broadcasting it online since 2011, so it should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following our story. But Alex and I finally tie the knot on August 16, 2014.
In a fury of "oh-my-God-this-is-actually-happening," Alex and I headed out to a Wedding Convention across the river. And there indeed in all of its glory was the entire convention center, full of just absolute shit. I say shit not because it was ugly, but it was just a lot of shit. Like, you know, when you are moving out of your freshman college dorm for the summer, and your parents look around at all the random useless knick-knacks you've accumulated over nine months, and they say, "Look at all of this shit!"
"Man," I sort of kidded with Alex, "it's like it's all about the bride and you're just an accessory."
The joke became reality when the doormen started handing out stickers to BRIDES, BRIDESMAIDS, MOTHERS OF THE BRIDES, and ...
"Can I help you?" the man said to Alex's outstretched hand.
"A groom sticker, please!" Alex beamed.
The man scoffed. "Ha. Yeah, we don't have those." And he moved along.
Alex sort of sat there in a bit of a tizzy.
It seemed as if some girls get married for the sake of the wedding, and if the newest David's Bridal commercial and the numerous wedding forums internet-wide are any indication, this is a legitimate frame of mind.
I don't want to get married so I can wear a dress. I don't want to get married so I get my bachelorette party this weekend. I don't want to get married so I can sit here on this blog and tell you I'm getting married. I want to get married because I am in love with Alex.
Alex is not some cold business partner who shall be playing the role of the groom. His proposal was clumsy and messy, but it was real. Our courtship was long and personal and beautiful because it was ours, not cookie-cutter. There was no question whether or not I was going to say yes, and when the going got tough, we didn't play games. We talked it out. Our hearts are fully in this. We are best friends, and it has been a very personal experience.
Writing has to be the same way.
So I asked myself why I write. It's such an over-asked question, but sitting on Facebook's MFA Draft 14 board, it makes you feel small and insignificant when you try to compare yourself to these people who seem to know what they're doing more than you do. All of a sudden, our prowess and talent and worth as a person are measured in amounts of rejection letters, acceptances, waitlists, or little scribbled notes on our "no thank you but you're awesome" mail. We keep score like writing is something that comes with a scoreboard. And we are ranked, over and over again.
This is not what writing is.
I asked myself a very important question. And I came up with a very important answer.
This is what my groom is: My groom is a boy with curly hair and glasses, who laughs by tilting his chin into his neck and giving out an "Oh my Goood" that can last for minutes. That's how you know you really got him good. My groom is a man who growled when he shoved a jackass in Boys Town Chicago up against a brick wall because the guy had copped a feel on my boobs. My groom sometimes tries to quote Cracked articles to me as interesting facts, when we both know damn well we both read Cracked religiously. My groom is someone who sits by lakes with me and we talk about whether or not we can afford Jimmy Johns, and then we slip into a conversation about God and whether or not we really did see my grandmother standing at the end of the death bed when her body gave out.
And this is what writing is: Writing is sitting cross-legged on my dorm bed, playing Natalie Merchant and Panic! At the Disco while I furiously type out a scene with John Price and Daniel Welles. Writing is making Abigail's airship fly across the sky while Wallace Cane stands by her side. It's watching a stranger jump from a thirty-story building and wishing I could stop him from hitting the ground. It's looking Pard straight in the face and wondering if he knows that he's a bad person sometimes. And it's standing next to Dantes and Judas when they overlook the broken kingdom that is now completely void of life.
I am marrying my soul mate. I write people I have known for years in my mind; people I love and people who have a story that I have to tell. All of it comes from the soul, from the desire and love to need to love.
And I think we all need to remember that. Be kind to yourself. Love is something that comes from the soul, not from a letter and not from a dress.
Boom! Metaphor full circle!
One of the things for which I personally have a soapbox is a writing community. In college, I spent two years trying the route of brooding artist in my basement with no one but my writing partner to talk to. And I knew people who didn’t even have a writing partner, but just brooded all on their lonesome. Around the end of sophomore year, I realized my writing was becoming stagnant. I realized that I had no one to look at my work, and in order to get better at not only writing but reading other people’s manuscripts, I was going to need to branch out and find a community.
It seemed as if there really wasn’t a community on campus. There were the Creative Writing majors, there were the Playwriting majors, some poetry club, and a couple of students who hung out with professors after class to talk about their work. So a few of my friends and I got together and decided to start pushing to get a community going.
In some ways, we were successful. We started The Writer’s Guild at DePaul University. We brought together about forty students at one point in a collective workshop, and filling the entirety of the Student Center’s third floor with college kids excited about not only sharing their own stuff, but helping others with theirs was exhilarating.
Those who were involved in the Writer’s Guild or some other group of writers became better by leaps and bounds. And here are some of the reasons why:
It’s great to have a family member or a friend read your work. But what you really need are a lot of voices with a lot of different opinions and points of views. Especially some who you don’t agree with or are offended by. Which leads to my second reason …
BUILDS A TOUGH SKIN
There’s always that one person in a writing group who doesn’t like anything anyone does, who has read some very impressive book more times than you’ve read Harry Potter , and who believes he is the next big thing to hit the scene. This guy is annoying, but you need him in your life. Why? Because he’s going to make you stronger. When you work on a short story for a month nonstop, barely stopping to eat and sleep, and you’ve built it up in your head to be the next great piece of American fiction, you have to eventually bring it into this guy. And this guy is going to tear it apart. He’s going to stomp on it and laugh as you cry. And regardless if he’s right or if he’s dead wrong, you’re going to have to deal with him. This builds up tolerance in you, so when you get that very not-nice letter from the publishing house or agent about your “baby,” you can already have the antibodies to deal with rejection.
It’s not easy to stand up and read. I had a friend who was terrified of sharing her work, but she went to the Guild and was forced to share. She was the best writer out of all of us, and a year later, she read a portion of the story at a reading at school. Public speaking and sharing our hearts and souls (i.e. our writing) is very difficult. But communities give you practice.
BRUSH UP ON YOUR EDITING SKILLS
You know that age-old bit of wisdom that everyone gives you about the more you read the better you’ll write? Turns out it’s true. If you can read other people’s work and see what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, you won’t only be a more productive, helpful writer in a larger community, but you’ll also be a better editor to yourself.
Everyone needs a support system. Does it feel like you’ll never get that book done? Are you stuck on the fiftieth page and don’t know what else to write? Did a character totally boggle you and you have no idea what to do with him? Chances are there is someone else in your group that has gone through the same thing or is going through it right now. Comradery goes a long way, and sometimes other writers have brilliant ideas as to how to work through the rough patches.
In college, I had a very special group of friends who I called my “writer friends.” I met my best friend and soul sister through writing. I met a cool girl who opened for Suzanne Vega. I met a cool guy who became one of my closest confidants. I met a ridiculously talented playwright who has gone on to do work in LA and New York. A lot of my closest, most dearest persons were those who read my stuff and who let me read their stuff. Through sharing comes a bond of understanding that you will only share with those people. There’s no feeling like making an inside joke about one of your characters and having someone else laugh. And there’s definitely no feeling like watching one of your friends go on to do wonderful, successful things.
On the reverse side, I’ve seen writers who don’t join communities. They don’t go to coffee shops and chat. They don’t let anyone else edit their work. They only can muster up the courage to show off their writing to those who they know will love it. These writers did not grow as fast as those who were involved in a community. They were lonelier. They were more frustrated. They had less of a gauge on what they needed to work on and what they did well. And they missed out on opportunities to meet amazing people.
Writing Communities are one of the most important things in our profession. It’s a lonely, lonely road without one. So next time you have a script or a manuscript in a good place, call your friends over. Put on some music. Order some pizza. Invite them to bring their own work. And start the conversation.
What is this?
Dawson is a writer. This is her blog. In it, you shall read about reading. And writing. And cheeseburgers. Sometimes there are tangents. Huzzah.