If you are a young writer, working away at your craft, the best advice I could give you is to surround yourself with wise and encouraging people. This actually applies to all creative types. Writing is such a solitary endeavor, but take it from me, the path is so much smoother, the load lighter, if you are doing it in the company of friends.
The single most important decision I made for my writing, other than deciding to finish that first book, was to seek out writing friends. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them. In fact, it’s possible I may have given up a long time ago.
This past year has had some of the highest highs and lowest lows for me as a writer. At one point I was so close to despair, wondering if my writing would ever make an impact, whether it was worth all the effort, that I reached out to my writer friends for advice. My friend and critique partner Jaye Robin Brown said something that changed everything for me.
In fact, it had such an impact that it now hangs on my wall.
These last few weeks, apart from finishing up revisions on the Sea Story, I’ve been working on a new story. I have a few traditions when I start a novel. One of them is to switch out the photos on my inspiration wall — out with the old story and in with the new. JRo’s quote has pride of place.
It takes a lot of courage to start a novel. The vision’s only half in place. Everything you write comes out not-quite-right. The road ahead is long and you don’t know if this book will make the distance. You don’t know if anyone will ever read it, and if they do, whether they will see the glint of gold you hope they will.
This is when I need JRo’s wise words the most. If I can write something that has meaning for me, even on a sentence level, then someone else will find it meaningful as well.
So many times this past year, Jaye’s words have been that little bit of encouragement keeping me going.
JRo’s words are a reassurance, yes, but they are also a challenge. A challenge to dig a little deeper, write a little stronger, to measure the height and depth of your heart. Because it goes the other way. Someone else is reading your work, looking for meaning. It’s your job to give it to them.
You never know when something you write or say might change someone’s life.