I won’t let you go lonely.
|Me? I'm not alone! I've got hundreds of friends!|
And even a few who aren't imaginary!
I love writing. Sometimes creative floodgates open, and hours simply melt away. Often these are hours I should have been sleeping, but what can you do? When inspiration hits, it hits. And there you are alone with your writing, and all is well with the world.
But then it isn’t.
Because writing isn’t a solitary pursuit. No matter how introverted you are, writing is intrinsically communal. Why should it be so? Because its canvas is the written word: a form of communication. And communication requires both a sender and a receiver to be what it is. Even a private diary entry is there for an older version of you, who is arguably a different person. Beyond readers, there are also various editors, agents, marketers and hopefully some friends along the way. In spite of it all, writing can be very lonely.
When I wrote theatrical scripts, I knew several actors who happily helped me share them with the world. When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t have the same luxury. It was extremely difficult to find willing beta readers. Even most avid readers are more likely to mow your lawn for you than to read your novel. Worse yet was being the only person who knew or cared about the characters in my story.
|No matter how good you are at chess,|
you'll need more than this to win.
Obviously, my writings are not the focus every week, or even most weeks. It doesn’t matter. I benefit just as much trying to help others polish their work. Getting my head around a different project almost always helps me approach my own with fresh angles. And if that’s not enough, I also get to share in the success of others. In the past few months we’ve celebrated a victory in an essay contest, a book launch and a small press deal. (And I have a feeling there’s more to come. Lot’s more.) While I’m still holding out for my own publishing breakthrough, it doesn’t seem so far away in the face of the successes around me. And when it does come, I won’t be celebrating alone. The success of one of us, is the success of all of us.
|No matter how bad you are at chess,|
I'm still much, much worse.
• The only question you need to answer is “What would make this better?” The answer will always be constructive feedback, no matter the level of writing.
• Your job is to provide a different lens. This is the one thing writers cannot provide to themselves. Even if you’re out of your genre, your comments will be valuable.
• It is just as important to tell what’s right. When something works, writers need to know it. Highlight your favorite parts to save them from the cutting room floor.
• In the end, it’s just feedback. Whether your suggestions are taken or not, they’re useful. So don’t be afraid to (respectfully) offer them.
Wherever your writing takes you, go boldly. Only, don’t go lonely.