Last night I had the pleasure of going out with two of my writer friends. In truth, I have a lot of friends who could be writers, if they were so inclined. However, not everyone has the patience to lock themselves in a closet and ignore the world for hours at a time in favor of the one they’re making up. Understandably so.
Writing is a lonely endeavor. All of the best stuff mulls in the brainpan, waiting to be extruded into the thread that weaves plots and tangles character’s lives. On the other hand, without input, there would be nothing to live and grow in the writer’s mind. As with most of the best things in life, writing is deeply complex, and yet not beyond the reach of those who grasp for it.
Now that I have my first novel squared, I am already twenty thousand words into my next one. This puts me on par with my friends, one of which is in the outlining process of his work, the other who is creating a new RPG. We’re not in lockstep but that’s impossible, it’s not worth trying. What we provide each other is sounding boards, which is crucial in story development. Ideas in one’s mind sound fantastic, but sometimes hearing them out loud or catching a friend’s facial expression helps to weed out the ringers from the winners.
Sometimes it can be as simple as having a willing audience. It’s easy for a writer to be patient with another writer as they work through an idea; both writers have been there It’s much harder to find personalities that work together; everyone has a different idea of what a story is, and what’s important in a story. I applied for a position in a formal writer’s group, whom I discovered through an editing course I took at WWU. I loved everyone and thought that I was a shoe-in. It was honestly surprising to discover I’d been voted off the island. The reasons they espoused were sound; “We’re not broken, why fix it?” They weren’t accepting new talent, it was as easy as that. On the other hand, let’s face it; nobody likes rejection, even if it is kindly phrased.
Being a writer plunges you into a strange and precarious world. You’re an artist, but you paint in words rather than color. You describe the world rather than show it with angles and light. You hold up concepts lovely and profane and let the reader decide how it makes them feel. It’s important, it’s vital. But it is a mountain that not everyone feels they need to climb.
If you’re a writer, a support group is an excellent thing to cultivate. I didn’t realize how much of a network I had until last night, and how welcome it was until this morning. We might be lone wolves by nature, but lone wolves are still wolves, and they still have pack instincts.