Community and Networking
Hello, friends! I’ve been pretty quiet lately, given the chaos on my side of things. Lots of travel, lots of revision work, lots of meetups with people. I’m now back in the U.S. for a couple weeks, although little has changed except that there are cats underfoot instead of a dog, and I sit at my computer in sweatpants and sweaters and fingerless gloves instead of shorts and a tank top.
I’m battling some sort of illness that the airplane inflicted upon me, while trying to do revisions. I tend to get a bit loopy when I get sick, so the result is that I keep fixating on certain passages and changing them over and over again, only to come back the next day, read what I wrote, and go “Huh?” It isn’t the most efficient system, but I’m getting it done, and I think learning to work while sick is a pretty valuable skill for a writer. It’s easy to say “Meh, not in the mood, I’ll do it later,” but if you’ve got daily word goals or deadlines or whatever you use to track progress, it’s easy to let one day of sick turn into five, at which point you’ve lost your momentum.
Anyway, I actually meant to rave about this amazing community of writers, readers, agents, editors, and enthusiasts we all inhabit. I was here two days before meeting up with two writer friends I’ve met via the interweb, the fabulous Caroline Richmond and Lynn Colt. How weird is it to have gone halfway round the world only to meet via the internet friends who live a twenty-minute drive away? After about five minute it felt like I’d been friends with them for years.
And in another instance, I got an amazing email a couple months back from someone who read my pitch for THE IRON WOOD on a contest I’d entered and stopped long enough to tell me that she loved it, couldn’t wait to see the book published. At that point I hadn’t even finished my first revisions, and certainly didn’t have an agent. I probably read that email a dozen times while trying to get my act together to query. But we exchanged a few emails only to discover that not only did we live in the same area in the U.S., but we’d actually attended the same high school, just two years apart, and never met!
I reached out to friends in the community when I was stumbling through the process of finding an agent, asking for help when I didn’t know what to do. Just a few days ago, one of the friends I asked referred a writer to me who was in the same position I’d been in, and I got to be the one to offer my advice, such as it was.
I’m headed to New York City next week (to meet my amazing agent in person! WHOO!) and every single night is jam-packed full of people I’m meeting up with. Writers, agents, editors, friends–the lines are all blurring, and I love it.
They’re people I never would have met if I hadn’t reached out myself, though. I’m a shy person, though I’ve learned to fake it pretty well, though I do say so myself. I think a lot of writers tend to be a bit shy and introverted. A year ago, the word “networking” was enough to make me want to hide under my bed. It’s not really Networking, though, like it’s this big scary thing you have to set out to do. It’s just reaching out, whether to ask for help or to offer it. Even if you’re just sending someone an email to tell them you can’t wait to read their book.
I know I’m preaching to the converted here, given that most people who read this are already definitely part of the book enthusiast community. So what do you guys do to network? Any cool stories about the people you’ve met along the way?