Friday, May 3, 2013

If You're A Writer, You Need To Be A Joiner!

I was teaching my Advanced Fiction Writing class last week, or rather, waiting to start teaching. However, I fielded a barrage of questions from students for twenty minutes before class even began. They were starved for knowledge about not just craft, but the all the ins and outs of publishing. I realized that I'm it for them.

They don't have a trustworthy network. Trolling the Internet can yield conflicting, and sometimes just plain bad information. Or not the results you need. A publishing house might look great on paper, but your chapter mates are the ones who will tell you if they are decent to work with, or a hot mess of conflict. Trying to decide which of the eight zillion contests are worth giving up your hard-earned money? Your local writing chapter can tell you.

No matter how supportive your friends and family are, only fellow writers can truly commiserate after a rejection, or a bad review. We've all been there. We cheerlead for you on the miserable day you finally pound out a synopsis. We hound you to get your butt in gear and send out that query you've been sitting on for three months. Our collective knowledge and experience may very well be the most important writing resource you've got. Not to mention the opportunities for critique partners and networking and (last but far from least) lifelong friendships.

While yes, I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (and even president of my local Maryland chapter), this isn't a blanket plug for them. There are lots of great writing organizations out there: Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantsy Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Western Writers of America, Sisters in Crime...the list goes on. Seek them out. Become a joiner. Because people traveling the same path that you are already on-or hope to merge onto someday-are the only ones who can truly share and appreciate and warn about the joys and the pitfalls.


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