At first, it may seem that writers cannot be friends with other writers. We are told that publishing houses take fewer chances on new authors and their slush piles (we keep hearing) that tower in corners of intern’s closet offices. Add to that the element of envy and it would seem that it is every man for herself out there.
Except that it doesn’t have to be.
Did you ever see the movie, A Beautiful Mind, with Russell Crowe? There’s a great part when he had a mathematical breakthrough in a bar and realized that if he and his friends worked together they could all achieve something for themselves that would not have to put them in competition with one another. Rather than all going after the one bombshell girl, if they ignored her, they could all get dates. It was a win-win.
I think of writing like that.If we as writers support each other (especially now in the age of platforms and internet marketing and promotion) we can all achieve what we desire — to be published — without taking anything away from another writer. The market is deep and wide, with plenty of niches for everyone. Your success doesn’t have to threaten me or diminish my chances.
When I started my first novel (don’t sweat it, I’m only now writing a second one as a NaNo challenge. It’s not like I’ve written five or had even one published – nope, not yet. But it could happen!) through a series of “happy coincidences” I was put in contact with a woman who had established her career as a writer. Her encouragement helped me feel validated as a writer. It was as if I needed to hear from someone who had experience in the field in order to feel like I wasn’t play-acting.
She didn’t have to do much (she didn’t have to do anything!) to make a difference to me, I would have been thrilled with one kind word, but she went above and beyond, even shared personal contacts. To a fledgling writer, her words of encouragement went a long way. I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a friend, we don’t go out for coffee or send each other birthday cards, but she helped me feel like maybe I wasn’t just chasing an ill-founded dream, like maybe there was a chance that I was onto something real. Here’s her website: http://www.nancyjosullivan.com/ and her books are out there in bookstores and can easily be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Jo-Sullivan/e/B001H9TLN0
An unanticipated benefit of NaNo has been getting in contact with other writers who are out there working at their craft. No matter their experience or “success”, they are out there putting in the time each day during the month of November. Maybe they are working with more intensity than they would otherwise (some days those word count meters don’t seem to budge n matter how long I’ve sat at the computer!) but they are investing the time and creative energy. Knowing that other people are out there makes it seem like I’m merely writing in a next-door room rather than all alone.
So write on, fellow authors. We may not be published, we may not win NaNo, but that does not mean we aren’t writers. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for the encouragement you are to me.