Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Writer’s Support

Le Coin du Village 1926--Valerius de Saedeleer-1876-1946 I’ll say straight out that non-writers are frequently not sure what to make of the writing life.

Why would someone put so much time, research, and energy into something that pays so little?

Why would someone open themselves up (repeatedly) to hurt from rejections or snarky reviewers?

Honestly, it’s really not something that makes a lot of sense. Most writers feel driven to write…and it’s important enough to us to ignore the long hours, low pay, and potentially harsh feedback from first readers, agents, and editors.

But having a little support is very helpful. And maybe you’ve got it with your family and friends… maybe you don’t.

If you’ve got zero support or if people don’t even know you write, I’d definitely recommend the online writing community. Blogs are great places to connect with other writers (find active blogs to follow, then branch out and follow folks in their blog rolls. Don’t lurk!) , but so are forums like Absolute Write and Writers Net which connect writers with each other and with resources and information.There are also Yahoo Groups that operate on an email loop (or you can choose to visit the group’s board). Just go to and search for “writing” or the genre of your choice.

You can find writers on social media, too. We’re all over Facebook. If you befriend me (and I’ll friend just about anyone), then you can easily find friends in my friends’ list who write. You can do the same for any writer out there.

Twitter has tons of writers on it. If you put #amwriting or #writetips or #writechat into the search box on your home page, you’ll find writing tweeter

If you’re looking for in-person support, try local writers' groups. Even small towns frequently have them now. Do a Google search: “Your hometown+writers groups.” You can also ask your local library—the research librarian will know, for sure. Several of the staff at my local bookstores (both independent and chain) are well-connected with the writing community, too, I’ve noticed.

Friends and family might not exactly understand why you’re writing, but can be supportive in small ways.

I don’t think it’s necessarily important that they understand the “why.” I’m not sure that anyone who doesn’t write would get it unless they have an equally time-consuming activity that they’re passionate about. But family can be supportive in different ways.

My husband has functioned as my patron of the arts. :) The small income I make from writing isn’t enough to make a living on, but he’s always provided the resources (and, with the resources, comes time to write).

My children promote me to their friends and their friends’ parents—while I usually don’t mention my writing to others. Their pride has led to many sales I wouldn’t otherwise have made.

Maybe your support came from long ago. A teacher could have let you know you had talent. A grandmother or father might have engendered a love of books by reading to you. I was lucky enough to have both encouraging teachers and a family that promoted books and reading.

And, since today is Mother’s Day in the States, I want to make a shout-out to the mothers out there…many of whom are incredibly supportive.

My mother made sure that daily reading was incorporated into my day when I was growing up. She understood where my talents lay and didn’t chide me for mathematical incomprehension (although she set up tutors to help me.) She cheered me on when I got internships at magazines and then writing jobs at magazines. She encouraged me to start back writing after I’d had a dry spell with my first child was born.

She’s my only first reader now and does a great job steering me in the right direction. She’s also a tireless promoter--- arranging book signings for me, a book club talk, and a library presentation. And she talks me up to her friends…and maybe even people who don’t want to hear about me and my books. :)

Thanks Mama. Happy Mother’s Day.