For years I sat on starting my first book because I didn’t know where to begin. The dream to be a writer was something I held close, sharing with few people. So when I began the journey, it was a solitary experience.
For one, I didn’t want to tell too many in case I failed. I’m one of those do-it-well-or-don’t-do-it-at-all kind of people. That’s a stupid way to be, though. And a lonely road to travel. I know in my head we are strongest with others around us, sharing our struggles and joys, cheering one another on in the face of a battle, whatever kind of battle might be raging. But this dream to write felt so personal that only a select few in my innerest of inner circles even know it was something I was working toward.
Second, I think some really idiotic part of myself worried the writing community might be full of people who are there to compete, who want blood, who will steal my ideas and crush my dreams on the mountain of I’m-not-as-good-as-them. I knew through consulting Dr. Google that the market is highly competitive, few make it really, and I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I would have among other dream-chasers who were going for the same prize as I was.
Held those cards close, I did.
But then I started to read things about the importance of finding a Critique Partner. I tried, admittedly, with a half-heart for a while, and was not successful. Still, fear gripped me, warning me I would fail, no one would want to read what I wrote, let alone help me in working toward the goal of making it the best representation of itself it could be and maybe, just maybe, even encouraging me toward publishing the thing.
And then I met someone.
Not like that.
I met my awesome Critique Partner online. She reached out through a medium I’d tried and failed to find one on almost a year before. We struck up a fiery email correspondence that led us both to believe we might be a critiquing match made in heaven. We exchanged work. She was good–oh was she ever good–and that voice of fear whispered in my ear yet again. It said “She’s going to read one line of what you sent her and ask herself what she’s gotten into.” It warned me to expect her to back away, to tell me I wasn’t going to be a good match for her on the merit of my writing (or lack there of).
But guess what?
She thought I was good too.
And then she turned out to be this amazingly aggressive go-getter who went for everything in the writing world, eventually landing a job with the publishing company that both of our books will be put out by. And, she introduced me to the lovely wenches. Now I’m a part of three different groups of writers, all valuable, all working toward the same thing, all cheering one another on.
It’s not so scary anymore.
There is an amazing community out there. It takes some work to find the right group (this one’s awesome!) and it takes some putting yourself out there to get connected to like-minded people, but they’re out there. And when you do connect, when you do let that fear or reservation fall off and just go for it, well, a whole new world opens up for you.
It has for me.
I love being virtually surrounded by others who are working for the same thing as me and instead of finding a fiercely competitive, cut-throat group of people, I am finding a beautifully supportive network of individuals who is interested in both making themselves the best they can be and helping me get there too. And I get to be a part of that. I get to help them as they help me and it’s an awesome exchange.
So, writers, get yourselves out there! Don’t be afraid and don’t be timid. Your craft will improve, your dreams will take one step closer to being realized, and you’ll find some pretty amazing people to travel that one-lonely road with.