Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Alone

Writing is a solitary activity, so I’m confused about this topic, “who we write with?” I mean, you sit at a computer, you stare at it, you pet your cat as she struts by, and eventually a novel just appears on the screen. That’s how it works right?

Okay thanks for laughing at my terrible joke. (Let’s pretend you laughed.)

Here’s the reality, though hopefully you know this by now: in order to be successful as an author, you need an entire community around you. Here’s some of the groups of people who have helped me get here.

Lighthouse Writers Workshop – Lighthouse is a nonprofit that offers eight-week workshops. Think GrubStreet, but for Denver. You don’t just learn from the instructors, you learn from your classmates too.

Writers Groups – I met all of the members of my writing group in my very first Lighthouse workshop. Over the years, I’ve added even more relationships into the mix. Now when I have a question about something I’m working on, or I want a beta reader, I have a whole line of people to whom I turn.

Facebook Writers Groups – There are groups for writers on Facebook. I could tell you about them, but I’d have to kill or something. I think the one for women is supposed to be uber secret.

Other authors – I’m not just talking about the authors I’m Facebook friends with, though they certainly count. I’m also counting my hero authors, the likes of Alice Sebold or Mary Karr. These writers have influenced me over the years in ways I wouldn’t even be able to totally identify. When you read an author’s words, their sentence rhythms, their word choices, they stick with you.

Other activists – Given the nature of my memoir, the writers who also deal with sexual violence have an enormous influence. I’m not publishing in a void; I’m trying to be a part of a much larger conversation. So that means I need to listen as much as I speak. I think the same goes for novelists too. For example, I know that Crystal spends a lot of time and energy engaging with chefs and foodies.

Deb Ball authors – We chat. Often. Obviously.

Moral of the story: Friends don’t let friends write alone.

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Lynn Hall is a memoirist, activist in the movement to end sexual violence, ultra-runner, and crazy cat lady. Her memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE, was published by Beacon Press in February 2017. Her writing has previously appeared in the New York Times, The LA Times, Hippocampus Magazine, The Sexual Assault Report, The Manifest-Station, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and elsewhere. In the summers, Lynn copes with publication anxiety by spending too many days in the Colorado mountains, and in the winters, with pans of brownies. She lives in Boulder with her partner and their 23 cats. Just kidding…she only has five.

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