Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Confederacy of Hermits

Writing fiction is a solitary pursuit. Even if you write collaboratively the actual creation of the work still originates entirely in your mind. Good writing is an extension of your soul, an intimation of originality, a piece of who you are creatively. Whether literary works that become masterpieces, or thrillers that titillate for a season, the words--and the sweat it takes to create them--are the pound of flesh sacrificed to the art.

Having said that, none of us work in a vacuum. We have experts we consult for depth and accuracy, editors that help show us the error of our ways and shape our words to maximum effect, publishers (for some of us) that help get the words printed and exposed to the reading public and friends and trusted writer friends to act as beta readers. These latter are our best hope of bringing a good story forward, for they tell us the truth, which is far more valuable than the pat on the back from well-meaning relatives.

Here in the Pacific Northwest writers also have another precious resource; other gifted writers who generously share their time, talent and insight with each other. Aspiring and veteran authors alike glean invaluable tips at seminars, trade shows, writers groups and online connections. Smart novices go to group book signings. They introduce themselves and get to know people laboring in the same field. We cheer each other on and rejoice at the success of our compatriots.

If you are a writer, or aspire to become one, come out of your cave once in a while and look around at the resources available to you. Join the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, become a supporter of the Seattle 7 Writers group or the Idaho Authors Association Facebook page. If you can muster the dough, the Idaho group is having a conference May 3-5, and PNWA is having their conference July 19-22. These are fantastic opportunities to meet successful authors, attend rewarding seminars on all aspects of the craft and connect with others at all stages of their careers. I save money all year just so I can attend at least one conference. If you attend the PNWA Conference, look for me, I'll be there and would love to share war stories. The Seattle 7 Writers also sponsor more intimate seminars that focus with laser sharpness on the art and science of writers.

Despite our solitary labor, there is a vibrant community of authors all around us anxious to exchange ideas, commiserate with our woes and urge us on to better writing and greater success. It is this community of hermits that help me thrive, keep me going and applaud my effort even as they temper the steel. I admire the dedication and openness and enjoy my small contributions. In the end we all do what we do to honor the words and the story.  

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