Writing is a solitary prospect. We sit in our little writer caves and come up with words that evoke worlds. It’s a lonely pursuit, but one we do gladly.
Many of us writers are introverts. That means we get energy from being alone, as opposed to extroverts, who get energy from being among other people.
I’ve always thought of myself as an extroverted introvert. When I was young, I was scared of people. I remember hiding behind my mom’s pantsuit when we met somebody new, scared to see them face-to-face.
In high school I forced myself to become more outgoing. It was a difficult transition, but I now enjoy both being around people and being alone.
But unless you’re working with a partner, writing a book is a pretty solitary thing. It isn’t something you can do in a committee. Or at least, it wouldn’t be very good if you did. LOL..
Still, each of us needs the support of community. We don’t do this writing thing in a vacuum.
I have a squad of folks around me, my close friends, many of them also writers, who are able to lift me up when I’m down, and help me celebrate my successes when they come along.
Many times when I’ve gotten a bad review, I’ve gone to my squad, and they have help me to see the bright side of it. Maybe it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe it had something to teach me as a writer. Or maybe it really sucked, and I just needed a shoulder to cry on.
The same thing is true when other bad things happen. When I didn’t even get a request in Pitch Wars last year, it almost sunk me. But my friends were there to offer a hug and a little perspective. This year when I tried it again, I went into the competition planning to “lose.” I did, but at least I got a request this time, and some great feedback from that mentor.
Lest I paint you too bleak a picture of a writer’s life, there are many good things too. When you sell the story. When you get a great review. Or when something else happens that propels you along in your writing career.
These same folks are the ones I turn to when I need to celebrate.
Years ago, when we watched the series finale of the US version of Queer as Folk, Debbie Novotny – a PFLAG mom fantastically played by Sharon Gless of Cagney and Lacey fame, uttered something profound:
“Mourn the losses because they are many. But celebrate the victories because they are few.”
It stuck with me all these years later, both because it captured such a particular moment in time and crystallized it so perfectly, but also because it reminded me to do the opposite of what I usually do as a writer. To magnify my successes instead of my failures.
And there’s no better way to do that then with my squad.
To my writing friends – do you have a squad? If so, how do they help you through your writing ups and downs?