I’ve been thinking about the writing communities to which I’ve had the good fortune to be attached. And more and more I’m coming to see how vital they’ve been to any success I’ve had as a writer.
Just last week I put out a question to one of my writers’ email lists. After logging five hours of phone calls in pursuit of an article, I realized it was time to review my phone plan in light of my freelance work. I asked this group what had worked for them. Within an hour, I had compiled a detailed list of helpful tips from others around the country who have struggled through the logistics of freelance writing. I felt ready and armed to seek out the best solution.
Only a few weeks prior, I was in community with seven other workshop attendees at a long weekend session offered by the Highlights Foundation. Having been to a Highlights conference years earlier, I felt like I was coming home to family in seeing some old faces, meeting some new ones, and definitely feeling part of a vibrant community offering plenty of inspiration and ideas on how I might approach my future work. I came away buzzing with thoughts on possible directions and ready to charge into my writing future.
Highlights Founders’ Workshop YA Novel Writing Participants, Fall 2010
Not long after returning from Pennsylvania, I attended a monthly meeting of the Fargo-Moorhead Professional Communicators, part of the wider North Dakota Professional Communicators group under the National Federation of Press Women. I’ve benefited greatly by listening to monthly luncheon speakers through the years. In addition, having the chance to network and dine with fellow local communicators has been invaluable and comforting as I’ve launched my new business.
I also try to attend at least once conference annually through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and I take time to read several writing blogs regularly, engaging with the smaller writing communities that form within the comments boxes offering encouragement and new ideas.
Some writers gather with their critique buddies on a regular basis. Others meet with writing friends in coffee shops, exchanging notes, giving hugs, sharing joys and trials. And it never hurts to have at least one tried-and-true writing buddy with whom you can share regular weekly phone calls or email updates on life and writing.
My longtime “tried-and-true” writing and life buddy, Mary, and me
We need one another. We rarely do justice to our work in total isolation. Even when I’m at home in my office and the only sounds are those of the mini fridge humming, the cat purring and my breathing, each one of my writing pals, a collection of beautiful souls from the past and present, are with me.
The religious sister who first welcomed me on writing retreat at a monastery several summers ago told me the halls in which I was residing and studying had been hallowed by many fine writers. If that can be said of a building, so, too, can it be said of a writer’s soul, hallowed by those who have nurtured and encouraged her along the way.
Q4U: Which writing communities have sustained you?