Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Writing Community

I've been thinking quite a bit about community this week, specifically the writing community. We're a special group--very unique.

Look at critique groups. I love my critique group, and not just because they feed me baked goods and tea. My critique group reads every word on every page of every chapter that I turn in, from sh**ty first draft to polished project, and they try hard to make my work better. We share information, encourage each other, give honest critiques--you know the drill. Our critique groups are our support groups, our first lines of defense. The price? Giving back the same time and energy that's being spent on us, plus a few bucks to have muffins and at least two varieties of tea on hand when you're hosting. (Nice snackage = happy critique group)

Lots of local writers--published and unpublished--have helped me. While we continue to hear about the competitive, tightening market, I regularly see writers helping writers. Of course you see it, too, at conferences, on blogs, or wherever. It's all around us: writers giving tips, helping with pitches, editing query letters, offering encouragement--people in various stages of their careers trying to help others move up the ladder. Yes, we also see or hear about the aggressive writers who chase agents or editors into bathrooms and elevators, but I think that's only a small percentage of us; most of us know better.

Whether writing friends are critique partners, fellow bloggers, or people we've met at conferences and workshops, they just get it, don't they? They understand the ups, the downs, the investments of heart and time--they get it all because they're living it too. The camaraderie reminds me of what my hubby and I experienced in the military community when he was a Naval officer. And just as spouses and children are part of the military community, our spouses and children are part of the writing community.

Then there are people like Debra, one of my closest friends. She isn't a writer, but she's right with me in the thick of everything. When I was submitting, she'd ask about whom we were querying. She's a true friend.

Debra and I, riding the ups and downs together

While discussing the writing community, let's not forget the agents and the editors. I'm a positive person, but I get really irritated when people have a writers vs. agents and editors--"us vs. them"--attitude. The agents and editors I've met have been kind to me. One agent who rejected a manuscript (that's now in the drawer) offered to have a follow-up phone call with me. As you know, that's huge because agents are some of the busiest people on the planet. When I thanked him for his time at the beginning of the call, he said, "My time isn't worth any more than your time, Dawn." We spoke for over half an hour, and he let me pick his brain about his thoughts on my manuscript, on the market, or whatever. Amazing guy. Regardless of who eventually signs me, I will always be a fan of his, as an agent and as a human being.

You've all probably already discovered the blogs of
Nathan Bransford and Moonrat. They're great examples of industry professionals in the writing community who have a lot of heart. If you want evidence, click on the posts I linked to their names. They totally get it, and I'm happy they're in our community.

And so, bloggy friends, thanks for being a positive part of my writing community. I hope I'm giving as much as I'm receiving.


Natalie said...

This was such a nice post. I don't know any other writers in real life, but I have a great critique group made up of girls on the other side of the country (the Internet is a great thing) and I love blogging as a way to connect with other writers too.

My relationship with my agent started with kind feedback. She took the time to give me a specific critique on my full manuscript (even though her agency gets an insane amount of material from writers everyday). I took her advice and made it much better and then she signed me. I will always love her for the help she (and several other agents) gave me early on.

Cindy said...

What a great post for Friday. You're right, the community of writers is unique and pretty special. Other writers know what we go through better than most and I love how we can help support and encourage each other. I got so much encouragement on my blog today from other writer's it truly astounds me. Have a wonderful weekend, Dawn!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This fits nicely with some other posts I've read today. It's so good to be a part of a community that gets this process. Thanks.

Susan R. Mills said...

You are right; there's nothing better than the writing community to encourage us in this journey. I know I wouldn't be able to get by without it.

Angie said...

Yes, I'm very grateful for this community and grateful for how much mine has expanded in recent months.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I'm just starting now to get connected with people in my part of the world who write, which is awesome. I'm so grateful for all the online writing buds I have, they've kept me sane all these years!

Belle said...

What a great post! I am really enjoying meeting other writers online - I don't have any friends in "real life" who write. I'm also a voracious reader, and none of my real life friends read much, either. I'm very grateful to have stumbled into the online writing community, and I'm really looking forward to participating in conferences and things too and meeting people in person, too!

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Thanks, Natalie. The Internet has made the world seem smaller, hasn't it? Critique groups are so important, and they definitely do not have to meet in person to be fabulous! Cool about the agents (yours and the others who helped you along the way)--we really are all on the same team.

Thank you, Cindy. I think support and encouragement are huge parts of what we get out of blogging. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

Caroline, it IS nice to be a part of the writing community and to be able to share where we are with people who really understand.

Susan, I think we all get strength and inspiration from each other. BTW, I really like your name being displayed. :)

Angie, that's wonderful!

Eileen, it sounds like you have a nice support system--and a growing one.

Thanks, Belle! That's great that you're planning to go to conferences. It's fun to be with so many like-minded individuals, learning about something you love.

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great post. I agree. The writing community is such a place of love and support. I had no idea it would be this great.