Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. ~Ernest Hemingway
When I started writing so many years ago, I felt Hemingway’s loneliness. There was no such thing as a writers group in this small town. Instead, you bit your tongue instead of mentioning that you were-gasp-writing a book. The looks were priceless, as if I were a teenager who proudly announced I were a practicing pagan, or Satanist, in this Christian town. You could almost see their minds making peace with the idea as they justified it with, “It’s just a phase. She’ll out grow it.” Non-writers don’t understand the need to get black words on white paper. Regardless of publication bragging rights or not, writers will write until they die. If not, they die a different kind of death. One that others don’t understand.
That was during the early phases of the internet when you could find a few sites dedicated to the writing process and life. Which was nice because you knew that there were at least a few other writers like you somewhere out in this vast world. That was the last time I tried submitting to agents or entered contests for short stories. When the rejections came back, I tucked them away quietly and went back to writing. As I did, my submissions began to whittle down to nothing and I wrote purely for the pleasure of myself.
Now, I’ve decided to kick it up a notch and attempt to break into the magical world of publishing once again. Only this time…it’s not so lonely. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter. What used to be a few aspiring writers assumed to exist because of a scant trickle of articles about the craft, have become thousands of people…just like me! Every single one sitting down to write at night. Online, we join together in a band of encouragement.
I post, “Settling in to crank out this story” on Twitter and someone is bound to reply, “Good luck”. Complete strangers who have become online friends. Incredible, right?
I belong to Power Writing Hour on Facebook, created by Mallory Snow (Stories Storm). Every night, someone commits and challenges the rest of us to one hour of writing, laced with applause for success and kudos for attempts. The idea for this post came from a new friend of mine on Facebook, Chrissy Dano Johnson of Far Away Literary Magazine, whose words of encouragement came at just the right time. (She’s on my blogroll. Be sure to take a gander at her and the others.)
It’s good to belong in a community of support. Not that my friends aren’t supportive of my writing endeavors. I have wonderful friends who believe in me but they don’t necessarily understand the joy of receiving rejections. Or the fear of success. Or the struggle with theme and voice. So, to all my new writing friends whom I’ve never met, thank you!