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Lots of local writers--published and unpublished--have helped me.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.
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.