How often have we heard about the lonely life of the writer penning prose alone in a garret? The image stirs fantasies of finding the perfect cabin in the woods, our own little Walden necessary for us to write.
So now how about a dose of reality? If it weren't for my writing pals, I'd never get a word written. I need an army of others.
My husband reads every word of the essay for Write Now Newsletter before it goes out and looks over each of the articles and short stories I'm submitting for publication. He's read the first 80 pages of the memoir and he'll read the rest when I get around to finishing it.
I meet monthly with a group of writers to snack, gossip, and share writing strategies. Over the past six years, we've become a backbone of support for each other and I'm constantly amazed at the talent and wisdom I find among them.
I "meet" once a week to "write" over the phone with a friend who lives in Santa Fe. We pick a topic and a length of time, hang up, do "writing practice" (ala Natalie Goldberg) until the timer goes off. Then I call her back and we read our work aloud without comment.
Once a week I participate in a conference call with a group of writers each of whom is writing a memoir. These women are scattered across the globe. I met them while taking one of the Big Sky Writing Workshops with Sean Murphy and Tania Casselle. We get current on what each of us has done in the past week and present any challenges that have come up. We share ideas, solutions and laughs.
Periodically I exchange work with several other writers by email or snail mail. Here I'm looking for feedback, criticism, honest comments on how to make the work better.
And all the while I'm attending author readings and lectures.
So if you're out there alone trying to figure out how to make your writing life work, find a writing buddy. Take a class. Put up a sign in a coffeehouse. Attend one of the On-going Writing Groups listed on my website. Find some support. We can't do it alone.