Thursday, June 16, 2011

It takes the village to write a story

I’ve come to the conclusion that, regardless of our penchant for desiring solitude while we work, writers are social animals, and need interaction from like-minded people to survive. Whenever I get bogged down, and have a hard time forcing myself to (as Steven Pressfield says) “Do the work,” I will often strike up some kind of conversation with any one of my many friends who also write. We chat about the process, about ideas, and even about mundane, non-writing topics.

I can’t speak for my friends, but for me I think this helps because it is a reminder that writers are people just like me. To understand this, you have to know something about who I am. I am easily star struck. Since I was a teenager, the idea of meeting and talking to “famous” people has always thrilled me. And that includes writers. Whether or not you are a “bestselling author” you have achieved a level of notoriety that I have not, and thus are worthy of praise.

I got my first real taste of it when I sent a letter (on paper in an envelope…real old-school stuff) to David Morrell after reading one of his books. A few weeks later I received a letter back. It was type-written, but with hand-written corrections for grammar by David himself. I about jumped out of my skin! I cherished that letter for years (though sadly it got lost in one of several moves). Since then, I have friended him on Facebook, and exchanged several emails. He is an extremely accessible person, with real passion, not only for writing, but for helping people understand writing.

Facebook has been a boon in this regard. I have friended several authors; most notably Scott Oden, Charles Gramlich and Dave Gross. Anyone who has read this blog knows how much I talk about Scott (in hindsight, it might be seen as downright creepy). We have a lot in common, and he is very easy to chat with. The same goes for Charles. Whenever I post a blog I eagerly look forward to the comments he makes (Hey Charles!). And Dave is responsible for my one and only publishing credit. He was the editor of Dragon Magazine who bought my article back in 1998. I was giddy when I sent him a message on FB mentioning that, and he replied that he actually remembered my article.

(By the way, have I mentioned what talented writers Scott and Charles are? You should look them up on Amazon and read their works. If you are a fan of the genres they work in, you will not be disappointed.)

But, getting back to my original point, sometimes writers need reassurances from other writers about what we do. Although I have no fiction publishing credits yet, I feel hope well within me that someday I will whenever I get some positive feedback from these guys. Even from my fellow non-published writer friends. We all feed off of each other’s enthusiasm, I think.

And outside that circle, writers also need support from their non-writer friends and family. I have to say, my wife, Michele, has been instrumental in fanning the flames of my hopes and dreams. She encourages me with everything I write, and makes me want to write more. She has even inspired a character here and there. I have to say, without her support, I probably wouldn’t have even made what little progress I have.

So, if you’re reading this, and you like to write, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation about writing with “famous” writers. You’ll find that they are human just like us. They have a lot of the same fears, doubts and stumbling blocks. And who knows, maybe your enthusiasm could spark some creativity and motivation that they are lacking at that time.

And of course, feel free to chat me up too! I love talking to other writers.


Scott Oden said...

Human? Now you're just being downright nasty!

Orcs rule!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard good things about this Gramlich guy before, but isn't Scott Oden some kind of Killer Orc? I mean, a name like "Oden." You just know this guy is evil. Unless maybe you're a Viking or something.

Scott Oden said...

I am Orco necans scribonidae . . . one of the infamous Killer Orc scribes :)

That Gramlich guy, though. He seems a bit shady. I think he may have entered into a bargain with the Great Old Ones at an altar in the Louisiana swamps. Look closely and you might see the blasphemous features of a Deep One lurking behind that erudite exterior! Ia! Ia!