Saturday, January 23, 2010

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

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!

19 comments:

  1. It is imperative to belong to a village - or more than one. I am very fortunate to be a part of the Corkers, and have found it to be a supportive, loving place! Thanks, Jill (and my fellow Corkers!)

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  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I used to find it quite lonely, writing as I don't know many others in real life. But then I became a member of the Corkers (and the morning after signing with Jill found my email filled with warm greetings and congratulations from her other clients, it was WONDERFUL) and through Twitter and Facebook have stayed in contact with the other amaze-ible people I have since met at conferences, sharing our triumphs and woes and frustrations about being a writer. My e-village gets it.

    Thanks for the post Jill.

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  3. Google groups is awesome, and Corkers has made a great place for all of us co-clients to support one another!

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  4. I love being a Corkers villager. Even though my fellow villagers live in different time zones, we are in daily - or nightly - touch.
    Hats off to Jill!

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  5. I love my villages!!

    And I've used Yahoo groups for years. I'm sure it's similar to google groups. My family (all seven siblings) keep in touch this way. :)

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  6. we love you jill!

    i know for a fact i wouldn't have made it this far if it weren't for all my writing friends who supported me!

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  7. I like my writing villages too. Real life people don't often get the quirkiness of the publishing biz.

    And being a Corker is made of awesomeness!

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  8. Really, as a rule, I don't much like people. Or groups (virtual or corporeal). They frighten me. So does dawn. But back to the point: I have to admit that the Corkers have added immeasurably to my life. They're all so upbeat and positive and informative. And SUPPORTIVE. And they're that way no matter what you do: there's no reasoning with these people. So I have to admit, e-groups may be an okay thing after all.
    But I'm still scared of dawn.

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  9. The RSBs have made my richer than I could have hoped, and love every one of them. ;-)

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  10. This is great, Jill, kind of like online support groups for our addiction to writing. :) I agree with you that writing can be so solitary, and having other writers to talk to, be in contact with, bounce ideas off and, of course, critique your work, is so so helpful. I belong to a local critique group and a few of our core members also formed an emergency email critique group, and I'm on a number of listservs, but having an online support group of friends and fellow writers would be great. I'm now looking to start one of these.

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  11. I'm so glad to be part of your village!

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  12. Wow, what a great idea to have a google group for clients. I hope if I ever land an agent, they'll have a google group. That would be fun!

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  13. Absolutely. I don't think I'd still be writing if it wasn't for my writing friends. And I definitely wouldn't be as good of a writer. Looks like you had fun.

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  14. ...kinda feeling like I might burst into song...

    Does anyone else think, perhaps, all these great people congregating around Jill might have something to do with, like, the fact that she RULES?

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  15. Thanks for sharing this wonderful information.

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  16. What a great post, Jill. I'm going to have to check out Google Groups now! I didn't know about it. My group uses Ning.

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  17. I do find it lonely sometimes. I really like searching for others that are feeling the same things I am so I don't feel so lonely. Thank you for the information on Google Groups and belonging to a village. I will look into it.
    Thanks!

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  18. I used to find it quite lonely, writing as I don't know many others in real life.

    Work From Home

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  19. Hermitization--so there is a word for it! Sometimes I forget that writer and recluse are not synonyms. Thanks for the reminder to reach out once in a while, to surround ourselves with people who provide love and support.

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