My husband always rolls his eyes when I talk about my Twitter friends.
“You don’t really know this people,” he says. “They’re just words on a screen.”
Maybe he’s right. We don’t “know” each other in the true sense of the word. I have no clue if you guys like coffee or tea, prefer Coke or Pepsi, or even where most of you work.
And yet, I know many of you. You’re all like me in one sense: you’re writers chasing a dream. You’re learning all you can and reaching out to like minds for guidance, just as I am. You’re trying to stay afloat in a sea of online resources and get your voice heard. Most of all, you’re looking for support encouragement from others who know it’s like to be driven to write.
Most of us can’t find that with our “real life” friends. When they initially find out we’re writing a book, they think it’s awesome and brave. They can’t wait to read it. They want to know about the plot, the genre, the characters. They can’t give you enough support.
Time passes, and as everyone goes about their daily lives, you’re sleep-deprived, scratching out a scene whenever you can find enough quiet time. A few weeks later, your friends excitedly ask how the book’s doing, hoping to read some.
Your response is probably something like this: I’ve got the outline done and the first 5000 words written. It’s going great!”
The friend blinks. “You’ve only got 5000 words? But it’s been so long! When do you think you’ll be ready to publish?”
Yes, I’ve had this conversation with many friends. Every one thinks writing a book is a cool thing and something they’d love to do. And most of them think it simply involves sitting down at the computer with an idea and letting your thoughts rip.
Most have no clue of the planning that goes into a book, and many are oblivious to the difficulties of getting published.
“Go to Barnes and Noble,” one of my friends says. “Look at all the books there – and a lot of them suck. I’m sure yours doesn’t. No way you won’t get published. Someone will snatch your book right up.”
But my Twitter friends – my writing buddies – they get it. They know the writing is like a marathon, not a sprint. Writers are the wise turtle, not the impatient hare. All of us have our own methods. No two are the same, but we still get what the other’s going through. Who else but a fellow writer could understand the frustration over spending a half an hour over one paragraph, or getting lost in hours of researching and trying to decide what needs to be utilized and what should be left out? Only another writer knows the high of great writing, when the words actually do flow out of your fingers, and only another writer could understand the crushing lows of self-doubt.
Our face-to-face friends may smile and nod, tell us to buck up, it’ll be okay – the usual. But online buddies can empathize and offer real advice. They can tell us to quit whining and get busy writing, that it’s the only way to pull ourselves out of the funk, and we actually listen.
Why? Because they get it. They get that finishing the first draft is just one step of many. They realize it could be a year or more (in some cases, many) before that book is ready to query. And they understand the book may never be published or even submitted. A real life friend would be shocked if I shelved my draft because I didn’t think it was ready and started something new. A writing friend would get that our craft gets better with every book.
So I may not know if you guys are vegetarians or carnivores, but I know you understand what I’m going through. I know that at any moment I could log onto Twitter and ask a question or post a link and get a response. You cheer when I have a good writing day and commiserate when I don’t.
You’re there for me in a way real life friends can’t be, and I’m immensely grateful.
Thank you and best wishes on your writing journey. I’ll be right there beside you!