I guess you can be a writer on your own without the support and friendship of others writers, it’s just harder…and not as much fun.
I was introduced to someone recently who is almost finished writing her first book. She was eager to speak to another writer, someone who speaks the same language. I listened as she explained her book’s premise and fielded her questions, as best I could, on writing courses and next steps. But she wasn’t part of a critique group. I thought back to when I was in her position. It wasn’t long ago, exactly a year since I joined the online writing group at Kelley Armstrong’s forum. I’d finished a book six months prior and didn’t know anyone who wrote, knew nothing of the industry, little fish in a big pond. But connect with other writers who know how hard it is to get published, who understand writing, who will listen to your rants and suddenly the pond feels smaller – or at least more manageable.
Then there’s the critique itself. I won’t even read my original first draft anymore (yet somehow can’t bring myself to delete it). I never imagined how much my writing could change and improve once I let my words loose in the hands of other writers. But how can you tell someone whose baby is about to be born after a long labour that the hard work is just beginning? Tough one.
Then there’s blogging and twitter. More community, more support, more connections to the world I love. All those writerly types out there who share a passion and commitment. So I ask myself…the legendary authors of the classics, the ones who wrote before the age of the internet…how did they do it without the resources we have now? Somehow they managed, it probably just wasn’t this much fun.
For all of you who are getting “lost” in your stories this NaNoWriMo, here is a little something for you.
In My Forest by Marianne Su
My scene wasn’t done. My character was still lost in the forest. I shifted in my chair and forced my fingers to tap along the keys, focusing on the clicking sound to keep me awake in the dark room. My eyes wanted to squint against the cruel glare of my laptop but I forced them open, just a little more.
I needed another cup of coffee. I reached over to grab the mug off the table beside me. Half a cup of cold coffee. Good enough. I gulped it down. Caffeine was caffeine. Besides, making a fresh cup would take precious minutes away from finishing the scene.
Meg’s legs carried her through the forest. It was getting cold. I wrapped myself tighter in the blanket, lifting my icy feet and burying them in the soft fleece. I slurped the last drop of cold coffee from the bottom of my mug and kept typing. Meg was losing hope. A brisk wind blew hair into my face. I reached up to sweep it away as disturbed leaves rustled around me. I spun around, hearing the snapping of twigs under my feet. Prickling spikes reached for me, taunted me as I raced through the branches, my vision blurred with confusion. The forest was quiet. The night was dark. Like Meg, I was lost.
I had to find a way back. Pinching my arm didn’t work. Screaming didn’t work. I ran. Out into the clearing I tumbled, tripping and falling onto the soft moss. The night shone down on me, not with the brilliance of stars but with electronic luminescence. Words scrolled across the sky. My words. I reached up, the distance to the screen not deterring my attempt to reach the only trace of where I belonged. My scream filled the empty forest as a hand appeared up above, visible through the screen in the sky. His voice, calling for me, echoed off the trees, so distant. A click, a shutdown box flashed across the screen. I screamed a futile protest as the laptop went black, leaving me alone with the dim stars, forever lost in my forest.