Borrowing Toothpaste & Other Perks of the Writing Community

Veronica Rossi 7 Thursday, July 12, 2012

Raise your hand if you’re an introvert.
Now do the same if you are a writer and are comfortable with nothing more than your own thoughts for hours on end.

My hand is up. Is yours?

I think a lot of us writers are introverted by nature. Years ago, I had no idea how social my writing life would ultimately make me.

I remember going to my first few conferences, back when I was just a newbie writer. I went to the San Francisco Writers Conference and SCBWI Annual Conference and a few smaller workshops. I remember feeling overwhelmed and like I was this tiny speck—so insignificant in the grand scheme of publishing. I seriously questioned whether I would ever break in, or feel part of such a vast and seemingly impersonal business.

Then things started to change. I met one writer and exchanged emails, and then another. I joined a critique group. I started going to the same conferences regularly. And little by little, I found friends. I don’t mean to sound braggy when I say this, but now I find that there isn’t enough time when I go to cons to see the friends I’ve made. There are just too many great people in this business. I’m lucky to know a lot of them.

I’ve been talking about fellow writers, but the network of awesome in this business reaches far beyond this group, to agents, editors, and bloggers.

Here are just a few snapshots of how this community makes me feel full:

-       Random acts of kindness – Recently I mentioned on twitter that I have been looking for ARC and haven’t been able to track it down. A blogger friend emailed me a week later, after she’d been to ALA. “I got it for you! Send me your addy, and I’ll mail it.” This type of generosity is not uncommon. From bloggers and readers, while on tour, I’ve been gifted with cupcakes, beautiful handmade bags, original artwork inspired by my book. I mean… there are no words. Occasionally you see eruptions of animosity in this business, but for the large part, kindness rules.

Me and Donna, at Donna's BEA
autographing for SKINNY
-       Your friends are my friends  - When I first met Donna’s editor at the autographing line for SKINNY in BEA, we hugged. I kinda love her a little bit for how much she loves SKINNY and got teary when I saw how proud she was of Donna. There were dozens and dozens of people waiting to have Donna’s book signed, but Aimee pulled me behind the table to get a snapshot with one of my dearest friends, because she knew what it would mean to both Donna and I. And it did mean a lot. That’s one of the things I didn’t expect…. Writers, agents, editors, bloggers. We love books. And while we can be competitive, we also love to support each other. What we do is so much more than 350 pages of paper, bound between cardboard. The work we do involves dreams and friendships.

Here's a view of the line that Aimee held up so we could snap the above picture.
You can't see, but the line went deep into the conference hall.
-       The Return of The Slumber Party – At various conferences, I’ve shared hotel rooms with Katy Longshore, Talia Vance, Jessi Kirby, Corinne Jackson, and Shannon Messenger. Let me tell you: few things are more fun than staying up late and chatting with friends, and in a funny little way, these girls are my girls now. I’ve borrowed their toothpaste and listened to them snore (not naming any names here.) That makes them almost family.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to know: what does the writing community mean to you?


For me, as a new writer, the writing community has been a great motivater. I feel in my heart that I belong in this community even though I don't feel comfortable callin myself a "writer" sometimes. When I going through a depressing writing slump where I'm just so sure that I'll never write anything good, I go on Twitter and blogs and there are so many wonderful people I know I just have to get there some day.
Also, have been too scared to get a crit partner. I have an email addy of someone whose bio sounded perfect for me but I'm just so afraid I'm not good enough. This post has finally given me the push to just do it. Who knows, we might be perfect for one another. So thanks for that!

Leigh, I really hope you take the leap! And know that we ALL feel the same fears as you. ALL of us, even starting my fifth manuscript, I'm rather terrified. You just have to try to set that fear aside and push on! GOOD LUCK!

Realizing the social part of social media can help us come out of our shells is very powerful. I've met up with other bloggers and writers at bookstore events and a conference.

It takes a little confidence to walk up and say hi but just do it! I was amazed at how friendly everyone was at the conference. I sat next to someone at the opening session and we hung out the rest of the conference.

The writing community is like an unexpected gift. You didn't know what you were getting then discover it's something you always wanted. It's a community of budding friendships and a community I hope to be a part of for a long time to come.

I think the best part of the writing community is the support and it shows really well throughout blogs and novels. I had not known about YA Muses for a while, and when I discovered it, I felt assurance that even published authors aren't perfect (even though their novels are!). It's reassuring to know everyone goes through slumps, or needs help with plotting or that inspiration doesn't just flow out of them every day. I think you get more out of a writing community when you give as much as you need to take. Reading each blog post from very different authors about similar issues also rounds out how a talented group of people can become inspirational to those starting out!

Thanks for sharing :)

All very true ...but you can not hope to win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket!

I loved this! The kid-lit writing community has been such a blessing. I started with a critique group, then signed up for the Miami SCBWI conference and the Orlando ones this year. I've met some amazing writers, agents and editors. What strikes me the most in this community is the overwhelming support for newbies. And everyone's so darn friendly and nice! :)

At my second conference, I already knew some people, and just having that sense of growing familiarity is enough to take care of the introvert! Hoping to head to the NY or LA SCBWI conference next year!

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