Today I left the house for the first time in a week. Granted, this is due in large part to a particularly indefatigable cold. Nevertheless, the sunshine felt good.
The other half of my reclusion was due to a heavy work load and my frustrations with The Pack’s climax. I felt like I was spinning my wheels in sand, catching no progress, just burying myself deeper. My lovely partner offered me some time to work aloud through my plot, and the resulting conversation sent me running for my laptop with a bevy of ideas and inspiration.
Which leads me to the point of this post: Community. In my corner I have:
- an amazing story editor who is also a poet
- an activist working for racial, socio-economic, gender and sexual equality
- a wickedly smart and creative partner who is also an entrepreneur
- a community of women, my very own Pack, lovingly called Camp Beaverton, who have some of the best conversations and gatherings I have the privilege to be a part of.
- a professional writer who has offered me spot-on, unsolicited advice, even when it’s the last thing I want to hear.
- a terrific filmmaker and creative marketing whiz who shares similar interests and quandaries.
- a large community of wickedly smart queers and non-queers who I can bounce ideas off of all the time.
- an ever-growing community of friends and fans on Facebook.
- and many, many other amazing people who have gotten excited about my idea and are waiting in the wings to lend a sister a hand.
I do not utilize the networks and skills of these people nearly as much as I should (yet). Yet, when I need to talk something out, I’ve got them to call.
Writing is an isolating craft. The pallor of my skin is evidence of this. But being able to turn to a knowledgeable and/or enthusiastic friend into a sounding board, a cheerleader, or a savvy critic is an excellent way to de-isolate myself, and get my creative needs met simultaneously.
An important point about all of this- I didn’t meet these people after I started writing, nor did I find them at conferences or writers’ retreats. These folks were already part of my community- they know me and my ambitions such that they can offer the kind of support that I need at the time (One such friend is the perfect buddy to discuss sex scenes with while sharing a beer, for instance). Sharing with them my ambitions was terrifying at first, but they have been the ones keeping me on track since Day 1, asking how the book is going, when they can read it, or how they can help.
My advice? Nurture these relationships. I expect to meet plenty of faceless critics as I move forward. Their critiques will be helpful or not, depending. But the community of people who are happy to entertain my insecurities while offering suggestions for character or plot are priceless, always.
Talk about your project. Get your friends excited. They will hold you accountable and end up being your greatest champions.