Families are an amorphous thing. Parts of them you’re born with, parts of them you marry into, and parts of them you kinda just adopt extralegally. They grow and they shrink and they grow some more – the only thing that’s truly consistent about them is that they’re in flux. But there’s always a core, too, a heart to any family.
Same is true of your writing community.
Mine’s been pretty amorphous over the years, starting with my best friend in middle school and growing to contain many of my friends now. I’ve got my 2019 debuts and my fellow Debs at the Debutante Ball, I’ve got my agent siblings and I’ve got my Camp NaNo pals. They’re all wonderful people that I’ve learned to rely on in various ways. We cry and laugh together, we shout about books together, we share recipes and pictures of our trips and basically, everything that friends do together.
Sometimes, all you need is a place where you can shout WORDS ARE HARD and everyone agrees and someone even brings you (metaphorical) cake.
But then there’s my core writing community, those who get to see what I’ve been writing first. Friends I’ve had for years and friends I’ve found more recently, but whom I’d trust with more than my life: I trust them with early drafts. o.o
Anyone who’s ever written knows what it’s like to share your work, especially when it’s not quite 110%. You know there are gaps and holes but you can’t quite see them, or at least not reliably. Your nose has been too close to the page for too long to be of any use, and you’ve rewritten it so many times you’re not sure what’s actually on the page and what’s just memories of scenes and characterization haunting your story – but sharing that draft means letting others see your imperfections. Trusting they’ll still love you – I mean, the work – afterwards.
There’s a whole load of vulnerability rolled up in that. They see you at your worse – just like family. That’s a lot of trust, and that’s why I don’t share my drafts with anyone.
That isn’t to say the rest of my writing family isn’t just as important. You need people to cheer you on and whom you can cheer on in turn. People you know you can drop in on for a chat or a drink out of the blue, who will offer up their time and attention free of any commitments. People for whom you, in turn, would 100% do the same.
Writing communities are exactly like families, except you get to pick them all. <3
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