Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Fiction Day - Finding Peers

The authors with my publisher recently created a group in which we can chat. No strict rules, just chat. Of course, the topics are ninety percent writing related. Last week it was about opening lines. It also turned into a discussion about the pros and cons of being tall or short when it comes to making an impression. I've downloaded two new books I didn't even know existed and signed up for blog updates from new voices.

I feel like I fit in as an author.

As a new novelist, I'm constantly judging myself, wondering when someone will discover me for the fraud I am. I've learned that's a common conception. Forget all that crap about "you're a writer the minute you put words on paper." You know it and I know it - we're writers when others recognize us as writers. There are levels of writers, and when a traditional publisher is interested in you, you can't deny that you feel more validated.

Self-pubbing is fine; I'm not judging it. However, the confirmation of your decision to write stories isn't earned until you've made thousands of sales and/or developed quite the reputation. There's still something about a traditional publisher accepting you that makes you walk a little higher off the ground and gives you enough sense of self to carry you into that release date.

But whether you self-pub or go traditional, whether you write for magazines or blogs, finding like minds is extremely important in this business . . . in any career. Peers keep you grounded and lift you up. They become a barometer for your efforts.

Ah, but there are those who state that groups and peers can erode you - knock you off that horse you've been riding. That criticism is what drives many into a corner, writing for themselves only. Just take your horse to another town and try again. You need peers.

All of us need mentors, but we need equals, too. They are walking the same path. They support you when you get tired and vice versa. They spread the word about your successes, and you spread theirs. They commiserate and cheer. They get you.

Last week, we listed our own first lines in our novels. I did so with trepidation . . . until they told me how it hooked them right in. I think I grew up a little in that moment . . . and it felt so damn good.

NOTE: As to the picture: Melinda is a critique buddy of mine. She doesn't pull  punches, but she'll support you to the end of the earth, too. Great traits for a writing pal.


Arlee Bird said...

It's difficult to deny that when a writer is under the wings of an agent and/or a traditional publisher, that author has a greater air of authenticity and prestige. However having those credentials doesn't take one off the hook for getting out there and circulating among peers and fans. We all need each other.

Best selling author Lani Diane Rich visits
Tossing It Out
Wednesday November 16th.

Gman said...

Good blog. Kind of a loner myself, and like it that way. Which is not to say I don't have a trusted, no-BS critic/reader/friend or two. When I get the infrequent email or the post that says "We'd like to publish your story," that's nourishing. Even a "good" rejection can be a high spot.

Joy said...

You looked at opening lines, but have you ever looked at an end line? We know the end lines for chapters need a hook or cliff hanger to pull the reader into the next chapter. But how many books have you read that just didn't end right?

Hope Clark said...

Joy -

I wholeheartedly agree. I never think Stephen King's stories end right, so I am tentative about reading more of them. When I invest in a book, I want a reward at the end.