Deb Sarah on Friendship, Writer Style

When I first started freelancing, I was giddy. I loved the idea of working from home, working for myself, and having my career go anywhere I decided to take it. Then the reality set in: The life of a freelance writer is sort of an isolating one. Over the years, I’ve depended on writer pals for encouragement, support, humor, advice, you name it. And at the top of all the advice I give new writers, I always encourage them to plug in with other writer friends regularly. This biz can be very lonely sometimes, and when an editor disparages your work or asks for an insane amount of revisions on a story you already put in a bazillion hours on? Yes, you need to vent. And it helps to vent to someone who has been there, done that.

For a long time, I got together regularly with a group of three other writers and we swapped stories about writing, shared ideas and editor contacts, and generally cheered each other on. Things got busy though. Two of us had babies (I was one), another started his own business, and another moved to India. I miss them.

(Speaking of friends, that’s my 3 year old, Carson, and our 9-year-old golden retriever, Paisley. The two are best friends. Paisley is insanely patient with my kids. She deserves the Family Dog Medal of Honor.)

Which brings me to now: I have a book coming out next summer–my first novel–and another in process (which I’m really excited about and hope to share more with you soon). While I’m still writing for magazines just as much, if not more, than ever these days (so fun: I’m doing some new work for Marie Claire Australia!), I now crave a different type of writer’s group–a fiction group. I often find myself wishing I had a circle of writerly pals to meet on Wednesday nights for coffee to vent about our manuscripts, or run new ideas by, etc. And in some ways, this is why I was so jazzed about joining The Debutante Ball. Not that this is “writer’s group,” per se, but it’s a community for writers and those who love them, and though it’s only been a few weeks into this season of the Ball, I already feel a great sense of friendship and connectedness to this awesome group of scribes. Elise, Eleanor, Kim and Tawna–it’s so lovely to be in this community with you. Thank you for being friends.

xo, Sarah

9 thoughts on “Deb Sarah on Friendship, Writer Style

  1. I really should not be reading this in the middle of the night, L.A. time… I’m getting seriously verklempt… not even kidding…

    It’s true, though — I feel the same way. From the beginning, I’ve felt so connected with the you, Tawna, Kim, and Eleanor. All four of you quickly became a major fixture in my life, and I’m truly grateful for it. We’ve only just begun (thank you, Karen Carpenter), but sharing all the ins and outs of our debut year has already been incredibly special, and I look forward to the rest of the ride.

    Now we just need to plan an in-person get-together… probably AFTER boy #3 is born so we can all share the wine equally…

    Lots and lots of love,

    Elise

  2. I rather feel like I’m sitting around a circular table at a lovely narrow hotel in Manhattan – The Algonquin, of course, where Dorothy Parker and her literary (I’m writerly, not literary and we won’t get into that squabble!) friends kibbitzed through the years. I met my agent at The Backspace conference in 2007 when it was stil held at The Algonquin. I loved the symbolism of that hotel. Miss Snark ran a contest once – something about writers and their sequestered, now digital, life. The winner entry for a song about it was sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, “We have a lot of friends although we never leave the house….” True that! You’re all West of the Mississippi, but surely the siren call of Manhattan rings loud? (Sarah, bring the baby, I miss snuggle time.) KIM

  3. I love this! It’s true – writing is so isolating and making connections with other women (and men, Greg G.!) is vital. That’s why I love communities like the Deb Ball… and the bond between you five baby Debs is wonderful to see!

  4. Lovely post!

    I agree, writing can sometimes be a solitary profession, and it’s amazing the connections you can form with other writers even if you never meet in person. One of my critique partners lives in rural south Georgia (about as far as you can get both physically and culturally from my home in Oregon). We’ve worked together for over six years and I consider her one of my closest pals, but we’ve never actually met in person.

    Tawna

  5. That’s so sweet! It definitely is important to have a writerly group. I’m thrilled that now that we’re in Denver I can participate in The Lighthouse Writers Workshop events – it’s like a ready-made group of people who love to read and write as much as I do.

    I am definitely trying to figure out the social aspect of working AND writing from home. Definitely isolating.

    But it does make me think of this, and that makes me laugh:
    http://www.thedebutanteball.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/I-Love-My-Computer.gif

  6. It’s fascinating how individuals can connect, um, with mere words. I LOVE that about the Internet but even more so at “writer” sites. After all who better to express and share than authors?!

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