by Susan Dennard
So, the first round of the Nautilus Writing Workshop Writing for Young Adults came to a close last week. Sarah and I hope (and think!) our six diligent students learned a lot, but there’s one thing I’m absolutely certain they all came away with. I know it because I came away with it.
And that is this:
One of the most important pieces of your writing life is TO TALK about it with other writers.
This same maxim applies to other crafts–interior design, knitting, water colors, whatever. There’s really nothing that will motivate you to work, stimulate your creativity, or make you smile quite like talking about your art.
From sharing your experiences and dreams to discussing your toolbox to bemoaning your frustrations–you’ve just GOTTA talk about this stuff. But more importantly, you need to talk about it with someone who knows what the heck you mean.
It’s one thing to have your idea-bouncer-offer-person–someone I do believe we all need in our creative lives–but it’s quite another to have your writing buddy who knows the terms, the trials, and the terror.
So I’m coining a new phrase.
Victory Fist Pump Buddy: a person who is also a writer, and therefore knows just how freaking hard this whole writing biz can be. This person is qualified to Fist Pump over your victories and share a tissue over the roadblocks. This person actually knows what it takes.
I mean, we all know how it feels when you see that dude at the supermarket…
Oh, so you’re a writer?
Yeah, I just finished my first novel.
Awesome! When’s it come out?
Um, well…it doesn’t quite work that way.
Or how about this conversation?
I just got an agent! Oh my gosh, this is the happiest moment of my life!
Why? Aren’t you the one that hires them?
No. It’s a really competitive thing–like, thousands of writers all have to send query letters and… Oh, what’s the point. Forget it
You throw your hands in the air and storm off.
Or maybe even this one:
Oh. My. Gosh. My book has SOOOOLD!
Sweet! I’ll go buy it! Does Amazon have it?
No, it takes an average of 2 years for a book to reach stores.
Because! That’s just how it works. And no, it is not a reflection on the quality of my book! I’m really proud of my novel.
Oh, well that’s still awesome! So your book will be the next Harry Potter, right?
You just roll your eyes and stalk away.
But then you have your writer buddy–your Victory Fist Pump Buddy who knows EXACTLY what you’re talking about. When you tell them that an agent requested a partial, they squeal with delight. When you groan over lack of self-motivation, they offer to keep you in check. When you feel like jumping off a bridge, they talk you down.
I never knew how much I was missing until a year ago, when I joined some online communities and suddenly felt connected–felt like I’d found people who really understood.
And since then, my relationships with other writers–the LTWF community, in particular–have grown stronger and more valuable. I can’t live without my Victory Fist Pump Buddies! Sorry to my husband, but when it comes to writing, your ever-willing-to-listen-ear just isn’t enough. I need someone who’s been there too! Someone who’ll nurture my creativity while also challenging it.
That said, I challenge YOU to find your own Victory Fist Pump Buddy. If you don’t already have one, go out and meet some other writers (online or in person) TODAY! If you do already have some buddies in your life, then drop ’em a line and tell them how much you appreciate having them around.
I appreciate all of you guys–all of you readers who leave us comments that let us know we’re not alone. I appreciate my fellow LTWF gals who answer my panicked or joyful emails with unwavering support and love.
So let’s all do it together in a super cheesy made-for-TV movie moment:
::victory fist pump::
Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.