Writing is lonely work, at least that’s how I feel. I hole myself up in my brain, divining and imagining, my mind often lost to a plot point that is months away from the page. Then there’s querying and submission, and the inevitable slog of waiting. Waiting for rejections. Waiting for an acceptance. Waiting to hear that we need to wait some more. Waiting for a validation.
I’m here to tell you that there’s always another horizon to meet, another mountain to climb, another literary star in which to compare yourself, and the way we survive the trek is not by a constant stream of successes (lol), but rather from the people you find along the way. Your crew. Your writerly soul mates.
We writers are cliquey, but it’s not without reason. Writing is such a personal endeavor, which is then pummeled relentlessly by the brutality of capitalism. We therefore have to be very careful about who we allow to hold our fragile egos and trust not to break them. We are perpetually being broken and rebuilding ourselves as it is in this industry, so we need a stable, reliable, and ride-or-die kind of crew to help us through it. This doesn’t mean we make a few friends and then stop trying, but the longer you trudge, the tighter and smarter you become with your feelings, and therefore are less eager to hand them over to someone new.
So how does one find their crew? There is no magic formula, but if I might speak from experience, I found mine over the course of years. I met one of my longest writer friends at a conference in 2015, simply because she happened to take a seat at my table during our sandwich lunch. I met others on Twitter as we shared stupid gifs or joined the same private slack group started by mutual friends. I met more at a writing retreat as we critiqued each other’s work (and even one that attended the same retreat, but I did not meet at the time, us only connecting years later via a mutual friend). Each of these relationships took time to curate before realizing that we were, in fact, now part of something a bit more meaningful than Twitter mutuals passing in the night. It took months, if not years, of messages, texts, emails, and reading each other’s work to get there. Over time, trust was established.
So if you happen to congregate with other writers or industry people, either in person or virtually, and wish you could be part of that group over there with all the inside jokes and laughter, maybe head over and say hi. They might have a you-shaped opening waiting! But if not, understand it’s not because they think little of you, but because they, we, all of us, are freaking fragile. Then look around the room. Guaranteed there is at least one other person feeling the same way, that is in the same spot as you, that can grow and learn alongside you. That is your beginning to ride-or-die crew membership. And you will build it together.
(Here’s a list of upcoming writing conferences to get you started!)