I guess I'd always thought of writing as a solitary pursuit. An author sits at a desk by a window surrounded by book-lined walls, conjuring new worlds with every filled page. There's no one else in that mythical bestseller-generating room.
[Dressed in black with a net veil over her face, Lydia from Beetlejuice says with comical gravitas, "I am utterly alone" while writing in her journal.]
Yeah, no. Not quite. At some point, we all have to find a writing community. Non-negotiable. It's just a matter of when.
I realized this sometime after writing my third book, part of a sci-fi trilogy that took me three years to complete. I found critique partners for book one, who convinced me I should try to get published. Joining Writing Twitter was my first stop, and I felt at home immediately.
Before long, I'd met hundreds of writers who shared my publishing dream, who similarly obsessed over the people who came alive in their heads and demanded to have their stories told. It's where I stumbled across a tweet mentioning a groupchat for querying writers. I asked to join, something that doesn't come naturally to me as an antisocial introvert.
Thankfully, they let me in, and the members of Team Pitch n' Bitch have become some of my closest and most supportive friends. We chat daily and I don't know what I'd do without them. I certainly wouldn't have made it this far!
Several months later, I was added to two new communities when I was selected as a mentee for Author Mentor Match (AMM) Round 9, which you can read about here. Along with the announcement came an invitation to a Slack for our AMM cohort, where I met an amazingly talented and kind group of mentees. At first, I had major imposter syndrome. Was I really a good enough writer to take up space in a group like this?
I soon found out I wasn't the only one with insecurities, and we've since bonded over our AMM experience and so much more, becoming a tight-knit family of writers who check in daily and truly want the best for each other.
The second community I got to join through AMM is one just for my mentor's mentees, a Discord called the Chaos Bakery. Again, imposter syndrome struck, but not for long because everyone was so sweet and seemed so excited to welcome me. We Zoom every few months and I love seeing what everyone's been up to in life and with their respective writing projects.
My respective communities have seen me through every stage of querying, helping me tighten my query letter and synopsis, beta reading, recommending agents to add to my list, critiquing my pitches, and listening to me vent and wallow and cheer and cry. Sometimes on the same day. And I do the same for them. It's the best feeling ever to see my writing friends cross major milestones like finishing revisions or a first draft of a new book, sending out their first queries, getting agented, and getting book deals.
Plus, there's the fun stuff that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't regularly chatting with writing friends. I co-founded a pitch event called MoodPitch with two Pitch n' Bitch friends, which you can read more about in this post. I've done gift exchanges in some groups around winter holidays, and on our one-year anniversary, my AMM friends did a MenTEA exchange (meaning we sent each other tea packages to toast our anniversary).
Writing a book and trying to get it published is an emotional undertaking. There are really joyful moments interspersed with... some really down days. I've shed plenty of tears; most of us have. Our books are a piece of us, and we send them out into the world full of hope and trepidation, forced to relinquish control over what happens next. There's so much we can't control in publishing, and it's good to surround yourself with folks who get that.
[Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia of the Golden Girls come together in a group hug in their living room.]
I'm most familiar with Writing Twitter, Discord, and Slack, but you can build community in so many other places. My local NaNo chapter meets in person regularly—maybe yours does, too. Whether online or in person, you may have to bounce around a bit until you find the best fit, but it's so worth it!
No one writes alone. Or at least, they shouldn't.