This past weekend the Houston Bay Area Chapter of Romance Writers of America (HBA RWA) hosted their second annual Starfish Conference. By every standard of measurement, the event was a rousing success. Lively speaker, interesting and well-presented topics, beautiful venue, good food, goodies and giveaways galore, and the chance to visit with old friends while making a few new ones. Even the predicted storms held off so we were able to enjoy the sparkling water, the pristine white sails and the general splendor of the harbor view.
Why mention this? At one point or another, it is likely that we’ve all heard the adage that writing is a lonely business. That’s why I cannot stress enough the value to be gained by gathering with fellow writers – those quirky, slightly odd members of our Tribe. True, in this post I’m mentioning the Starfish Conference specifically, but there are other conferences, other opportunities. Monthly chapter meetings, for example, or perhaps online communities or critique groups. I’ve heard of writers gathering for weekend retreats, brainstorming sessions, or simply meeting at a local coffee shop to write individually, together.
In whatever setting you decide to meet with other writers, I recommend that you do – frequently. Why specifically? Several reasons:
- Relationship building/Networking – You want to find out about the reputation of an editor or agents; perhaps you are looking to form a critique group; have you ever been stuck in your WIP and desperately need to hash out a solution; or do you wish to talk with someone who understands the Indie world? The best way is by forming friendships with those in your profession, and you can’t do that by staying isolated.
- Spark of Creativity – Your manuscript is fizzling and you are at a loss as to why. Meeting at conferences or at other writer gatherings spots and you never know when that pearl of wisdom, that jolt of an idea, or that zing of desire to hit the keyboard will drop in your lap.
- The Value of Service – The more you come to events, the more likely you are to be asked to serve in one capacity or another. Some of you may shrink in horror at that prospect, but there is no better way to deepen relationships or get a behind the scenes look at the writing world. Having dinner with NY Times Bestselling authors, sharing cocktails with agents and editors, and getting to know your fellow writers on a deeper level are the HUGE payoffs that come from paying it forward.
- It’s fun – From my own perspective, I’ve never been to an event peopled by a bunch of writers where a little clowning around, teasing and horseplay did not go on. Admittedly, I tend to be an instigator in many such activities, but I’m in no way a sole owner of that role.
So, every once in a while, you may need to actually get out of your author chair, take your fingers away from the keyboard, and haul yourself to an event where other writers gather. Live a little!
Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.
Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.
Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.