Writing is a solo sport.
Sure we can share our plots and characters with friends or meet with our critique group weekly/monthly to hear the good, the bad and the ugly, but when it comes down to the writing of your book, you must go it alone. You must talk to your characters, visualize your settings, work out plot twists and scavenger hunt word choice alone, in your head.
BUT, for many writers, going it alone does not damn them to hermitization (yes, I made that word up because here, alone in my head, I can free-think and choose to decline spellcheck and Webster's.)
Twitter, facebook, the Verla Kay blueboards, Absolute Write, listserves, etc. are wonderful ways to stay in touch with a community of writers, editors, agents and readers. In a public setting, we shout out our status in haiku-like prose, comment or strike the 'like' button to show our support, and e-meet and eventually become virtual friends with people we probably would not have even heard of or, in the case of famous writers/illustrators, editors and agents, had the opportunity to share thoughts, daily happenings, disappointments and joys.
There is one more virtual tool that has added to my village, and if you are not yet employing this tool I suggest you consider it, the Google Group. I'll admit it, I never heard of a Google Group until the amazing Paula Yoo joined my critique group and showed us then technology-challenged writers the virtues of this wonderful communication tool. She showed us that we can hit one button to email each other, and that all those emails would be saved to our Google Group in an orderly fashion (grouped by subject). Also, and most importantly for critiquing, we could post our manuscripts to this private group so we all have the most updated versions, as well as having a free off-site backup for our work. And so was born Kidscribblers.
Kidscribblers: Stephanie Hemphill, Claudia Harrington, me, Kitty 'Mary' Donohoe, Paula Yoo, Joyce Lee Wong.
These days, all of us in Kidscribblers have had life get in the way and critiquing has taken a back seat to each of our personal pursuits, but because of Kidscribblers, our critique group has not disappeared into the ether. The 6 of us are in constant contact with a click of a button. And when we need each other for a critique, we remain a team. A team bonded by love, and by ease of communication.
In August 2008, I went to the SCBWI National Conference in LA. I met a slew of wonderful people. In fact, every time I go to an SCBWI event, especially the 4-day long LA conference, I make new, wonderful friends. But, usually I go home and lose touch with the people I've met. Not this time. I spent a good deal of the conference with 6 women- learning, eating, drinking, and eating some more. If it was any other year, I would have occasionally emailed these women over the next month or two and eventually we would have lost touch. But that year, I told my posse about Google Groups (thanks to Paula!) and so was born RockSugarBeets--named after a couple of yummy restaurants we went to during the conference. I don't think a day goes by that the RockSugarBeets are not in contact. This is not a critique group. There is no stated purpose. RockSugarBeets, along with Kidscribblers, is my village.
RockSugarBeets: Me, Amber Lough, Cindy Pon, Jacqui Robbins, Sara Lewis Holmes, Elise Murphy, Debbie Friedman.
As most of you know, in the Spring of 2009, I joined Ronnie Ann Herman as an Associate Agent at the Herman Agency. At first, I worked like most agents, signing clients and emailing each separately. But, I have this tendency to want to share articles and posts that I find on the Internet and found myself emailing many a group email. So was born The Corkers (which I did not name but my clients named for me). This is NOT a place where any private business is conducted, but The Corkers is a safe, loving village where my clients and I share our thoughts on the biz and on craft.
For many of us, it takes a village to be a writer. But, we must create our own villages. I hope you all find supportive, creative, loving people to surround yourself with.
Here's to all of your publishing dreams coming true in 2010!