I know, not what you were expecting me to say, huh? Writing has the reputation of being a lonely profession. And it certainly can be! To be honest, that's what some of us like most about it. It's just you and your words making magic together...or so we hope.
But there's a reason so very many of the author-created interviews include questions about deserted islands. There are a lot of us who think being stranded on a desert island would make for a nice change of pace...always assuming there's a Starbucks, of course. And wifi. A few bottles of wine. Maybe a shoe store. A cabana boy or two. Sunscreen...okay, you know what? Forget the desert island fantasy.
The point is, much as we like and occasionally desperately need to be alone, much as we tend (more often than not) to self-identify ourselves as introverts and loners, we're not really as alone as we sometimes think we are. In fact, writing can be a surprisingly collaborative process and I'm not just talking about editors and agents...and proofreaders and beta readers and regular readers and reviewers. And all those characters in our heads. Much as we love them and need them, much as we maybe wouldn't keep writing (or possibly wouldn't turn out anything worth reading) without them, there's one other group of people who I think is probably even more essential for anyone who attempts to make a long-term career out of writing.
I'm talking about other authors.
See, friends and family might tolerate our weird writing habits, but they don't really understand them. Readers and editors may wait eagerly for our next book to take shape, but they'll grow impatient if we make them wait too long. Other authors get it, the good, the bad, the raging about deadlines. Sometimes, we need that more than we need that next glass of wine...or, you know, some other necessity of life. Chocolate. Coffee. A trip to Tahiti. Oxygen. Sleep.
The Nine Naughty Novelists--they're my village (and a very nice village, too, I must say) and I have others as well. My Antho-sisters from last year's A Clockwork Christmas (currently nominated for Best Antho at AAD--yes, I will shamelessly beg for votes. The link is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z8P76M9). My long-term (and long suffering) critique partners. The Guerilla Marketing pimpettes.
Without these people, I'm pretty sure I would have stopped writing a dozen times or more by now.
There's nothing quite like being in the company of people who share your particular brand of crazy, who speak the same language you do, people who can help you work through your issues, who understand your highs and lows, who can talk you off the ledge time and again. 'Cause that's another thing you can count on when writing stories becomes a way of life, there's always gonna be a ledge.
Since this is November, there's another village I should mention. One that a lot of us are a part of (not me. I have far too much going on this month). I'm talking of NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. A group of over 200,000 hopeful souls embarking on a journey together. I'm sure most of them would agree that they couldn't do it alone either.
So here's to them and here's to the rest of us and here's to more great stories to read...and here's a song before I go. One whose title I couldn't resist. One whose lyrics reminded me of leaving NOLA--and saying good-bye to all my peeps. And, most of all, one that perfectly captured the idea of what a reasonably successful, long-term partnership between ferociously independent personalities looks like.
Ours might not always be a peaceable village. But it's an awesome one.