Sunday, March 6, 2011

It takes a village

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I had a couple different ideas for my blog post this week. Then I read Frank Bill’s post from yesterday about the road to his publication and I changed my mind. The post is a wonderful story about how it took only 2 weeks to sell his book, but years and years to get to the point where he could be allowed to take that step.

It got me thinking about the practice of writing. When I first sat down at the computer I believed that writing was a solitary practice – me, my computer and my imagination. Did I think I’d get to The End? I had no idea. I was writing for me and me alone.

And yet – writers are never alone.

I am only a writer because I was a reader first. Every book that I read influences my writing no matter if I say “Wow, I wish I could write like that.” or “Yikes, how did that book get published?” Each book that I have read has impacted me as a writer. All of those authors have taken my writing journey with me whether they wanted to or not.

My family and friends have taken the journey, too. My husband, mother and mother-in-law were all big cheerleaders in my quest to finish my first novel. They even read it. (Poor them!) However, everyone I have come in contact with, whether they are aware of my writing or not, is sitting there with me when my fingers touch the keyboard. Writers are observers by nature. We have to be in order to create characters that feel real and three dimensional. Who else are we going to use for inspiration if not the people we come in contact with?

Once I discovered my passion for writing, I then sought out other writers. This journey would not be as fulfilling, and it would be a whole lot more frustrating if not for them. I’ve met countless writers in person and even more online. So many have become amazing friends. Whenever I find myself sitting in front of a blank screen worrying if what I am writing is good enough or if the story is working, their support keeps me going. Even if they don’t know it. Sometimes all it takes is logging onto twitter and listening to other writers talking about their own work to help me know I am not alone in my frustration or in my celebrations.

On top of that there are the agents and editors, the PR staff and the marketing teams that are all working to help all writers both published and unpublished. They write blogs, the judge contests, they attend conferences and sometimes they even talk on the phone. And of course there are your friends and family again as well as librarians, book sellers and book bloggers that you hope will spread the news about your book so that your words get read. And the readers…those wonderful, fabulous, faceless people that we imagined reading the story from the moment we first typed THE END.

All these people are taking my writing journey with me and I am so glad to have them. Yes - writing is about you and the page. Yes – only you can put your butt in the seat and fill the pages. Only you can chapter by chapter take the journey to the best words you’ll ever type – THE END. But on the days where the end seems so far away, it is good to remember that there is a village of support surrounding you when you wonder what you are supposed to type next.


Fiona Johnson said...

I wonder if all of the communicating over the web that writers now do makes the writing process 'easier' then it used to be?

Imagine how hard it must have been, siting at a typewriter, alone in a room.

How many writers abandoned the process because they felt discouraged? How many writers never had anyone to read their writing and receive feedback?

What a different world we now live in!

Bonnie Staring said...

Great post, Joelle!

I completely agree with McDroll. Without the internet and organizations like the Romance Writers of America, I think I would have given up years ago. It's comforting to know there are many others going through similar challenges, whether published or unpublished.

Unknown said...

Joelle, Thanks for the mention. I have to say writing is a solo journey for me. And I enjoy the alone time, getting lost on the page. I could binge for a month as long as I had enough beans to grind for my Americano. I even wear ear plugs when no one is home. However the internet has made the process better from a communication stand point.