Monday, July 10, 2006

A little support

By Heather Justesen

Writing is a very individual project, one that necessitates many hours of face time with the computer screen, and not as much with humans. However, we all need support for our obsession from living, breathing people.

When I speak with other writers I often hear comments indicating that their family and/or friends think they are involved in a nice ‘hobby.’ Some people feel like their family thinks they are wasting their time when they could be doing something else. Others face loved ones who simply don’t care one way or another. All of these attitudes can cause your enthusiasm to flag and make it difficult to plug through the work when things get difficult.

Everyone I know has times when they need support to accomplish their goals. And when family and friends cop out on us, we need another place to go for encouragement and support. The e-mail group that I belong to, along with all of these bloggers and several dozen more people, is one of those places of support that I use. When I feel my enthusiasm waning there is always an encouraging word from my friends here, even if I rarely see them face to face.

There are lots of writer’s e-mail groups out there. Don’t know where to find one? Hop onto Yahoo or any other web site that hosts web groups and do some key word searches. I also belong to a group of LDS women who write romances. We are scattered across the United States and write in various divisions of romance from LDS to national publishers, contemporary to historical, sweet to spicy, time travel, vampires—you name it, one of us writes it. Some of us are published, some are not, but it doesn’t matter, we are a support to everyone in the group.

Local writing groups meet face to face around the country as well, though in my remote location I can’t reach regular meetings for any of them, but they can be another great source of information and encouragement. These groups can be somewhere you can receive training to improve your writing as well.

Another thing to consider is how much your friends and family know about your writing. My mother-in-law told me years ago that it was a nice hobby but not to take it too seriously. A couple years ago I let her read one of my manuscripts, since then she has become one of my best supporters. It isn’t always going to be easy to convince those around you that your work is important, but if you don’t give them a chance, they will never understand.

I don’t write because I envision being rich and famous some day. I write because it’s part of me, because if I don’t I can’t sleep some nights and because the characters live and breathe for me, even if I sometimes struggle to make them live and breathe for others. Without people backing me up, however, I wouldn’t get anything finished, or have the guts to submit it.

No matter how solitary the work is, we all need someone to back us up. Even if it is someone you never meet face to face.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

My favorite bit from a relative came when my first book appeared in a Seagull catalog. "It's like a real book!" she gushed, sounding surprised. Um, yes, it's real. You never know what your relatives will say. Some will be proud, some will feel uncomfortable when you talk about it. But this is who you are -- they'll get over it. :)