This week on the Ball, we’re talking about support systems! Writing can be an isolating process, and for my extroverted soul, that isolation can be rough. My sense of both myself and the rests of the universe is largely externally-generated, so having support systems that connect me to the rest of the universe is so important for me. And, I think it’s important to have support systems both with and without other writers. So here’s what mine look like:
I have been so fortunate as to fall into several wonderfully supportive writing groups online. I started out as a member of the ‘17 Scribes, back when my book was supposed to come out last year, and then I transitioned into one of the Authors ‘18. Both groups are, as their names suggest, for debut authors in their debut years. They’ve been fabulous resources, and being a member of both gave me a great leg-up when it came to my own prep, because I’d had the benefit of seeing what did and didn’t work for those who came before me. They’re also places where we can all ask questions and pool our collective knowledge. In both groups, there’s a wide variety of authors — all are writing adult or new adult fiction, and all are traditionally published, not self-published, but beyond that, it’s a smorgasbord. We’ve got folk from Big Fives, folk from boutique publishers, and folk from the in-betweens. We’ve got literary fiction and all the genres. We hit our milestones in waves, we promote each other, and we celebrate each others’ cover reveals, buy links going up, blurb coups, everything. And we can ask for advice. “Here’s what I’m facing; how are y’all dealing with it?”
I am also, as I’ve mentioned before, a Siren. The Sirens Conference is the best book-loving event I know of, celebrating the women of sci-fi/fantasy and those who love them: characters, writers, readers, editors, bloggers, librarians, everybody. It’s not “no boys allowed”, but the focus is on women and non-binary folk. The conference itself is such a refreshing atmosphere, and we support and celebrate each other from a distance throughout the year.
And then, of course, there are the Debs. Going through this blogging project has brought me closer to them than even the rest of my other fellow debuts. We have a running slack channel where we can share whatever’s on our minds. Sometimes that’s recent successes; sometimes it’s things that are driving us crazy; sometimes it’s “You will not believe what my child/spouse/pet/student just did”. We’re almost halfway through our blogging year now (wow!), and I love these ladies so much. I’m so glad I’ve got this tight-knit group to share the debut experience with.
Sometimes, thought, it’s more relaxing to go to folk who don’t know the publishing world. Folk who will just offer sympathy, not solutions. And, you need people who know and care about you, the person, beyond the writing persona.
Outside of my ever-supportive family and my gentleman caller, I have a few specific places I can go to flail. These are my safest of safe spaces, where I can emote freely and not worry about it getting passed around in a way that might come back to bite me later on. One is a group of friends in a private FB group. It’s basically a massive group chat, and it started as a place for us to post pictures from conventions that we wanted to share with each other but that, er, weren’t for public consumption. (Alcohol may have been involved). But for years now, it’s been so much more than that: it’s a place where we share silly posts and jokes, where we encourage each other, and where we can all share with absolutely no judgment. When one of us has a bad day, she’s got a dozen friends ready to love on her, unreservedly. We are always on each others’ sides, without question, and that is such a valuable thing.
I also keep a secret Twitter account. I confess, this is because I miss LiveJournal and its ability to customize friends groups. Sometimes I need to rant, and I don’t want it to be secret and totally private, but I certainly don’t want it publicly available for all to see. My secret Twitter account is locked-down and visible to all of ten people. I don’t use it often — a couple of times a week, maybe — but just knowing it’s there as a release valve is super helpful on stressful days.
The important thing is: have people who have your back. Have people who will listen, and not judge. Have people you can go to for advice, and people you can go to for a cuddle. Have people.