Monday, November 7, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

Hello, mes amies, and welcome to the first official post in the YA Warehouse's weekly roster. This post is long, and for that I apologize. I hope you find me as entertaining as the nice men in white coats who bought me this lovely jacket. As you can see in our inaugural post, I am the Prince of Darkness Mondays.

Mondays are a funny thing. They get a bad rap, some might say, but I think it's totally deserved. I mean, at best, you wake up and it's Just Another Frakking Day, and you have to brush your teeth and find your glasses and figure out what you did with your favorite red panties and why there are 13 empty bottles of champagne in your kitchen... and then get ready for work.

At worst, you could wake up on a Monday and have to go straight to the dentist. This was me today, my pretties. And I realized, as I was getting cavities drilled this morning to the ka-ching! sound of my emptying bank account, that dentists are really the most brilliant - and sadistic - scammers of all time. The Nigerian princes of the world could learn a thing or two from the D.D.s.

Think about it. I am paying this dudebro HUNDREDS of DOLLARS, which are like money-units, to stick a drill in my face at 10AM and go digging like the freakin' Spanish colonial gold-miners from Pocahontas. Ostensibly for my own good, and in a building where 'Dr. Longman's House of Pain' appears on not a single sign. How does that work?

But yes, yes, I get it. Teeth are important.

You know what else is important - especially to writers? Community. (Whoah! My transitions, they are smooth and flawless. Don't act like you're not impressed.)

Lots of people talk about this. Probably more than talk about dentistry. Writing is a creative outlet, and like most other creative outlets it is emotionally exhausting, incredibly complex - and highly solitary.

Writing is lonely.

You knew that already, of course, but you might be - like I was - unsure of how to break into the Great Mafia of the Writing Community. Or you may be anxious, because look at all those other writers, who know people and have friends and go to fancy cupcake dinners or on writing retreats or to conferences or start group blogs! I will never be like them!, you wail. I will be alone forever!

'Tis not true, my precious.

Writers conferences and conventions are a great way to meet people, but the time and money required can be prohibitive for lots. The internet is where it's at, and not just for message boards of twitterchats - the internet is where I met my very real, flesh-and-blood group of fellow writers and crit partners, all of whom live in my own backyard and do fun things with me like go to midnight showings of Harry Potter or drink margaritas or have fancy crepes for dinner, or maybe do all of those things at the same time.

A little over six months ago, I had no writing community to speak of. Absolutely none. I had one writer-friend in real life, but she lived quite far away and I hadn't seen her in years. I did not know any writers, or where to find them, or if I'd mesh with them once I did find them, or if they'd be okay with genre writing or YA or or or a hundred other things.

Cue: Twitter.

Twitter can be intimidating - and confusing - at first, and I understand that. We'll address a bit later on how to use it more effectively but right now, I'm just here to say: If you're a writer (particularly an aspiring and/or lonely writer) and you are not currently on Twitter, you should be.

I can't imagine what I would have done, or how I would have kept the last vestiges of my fragile sanity over these last few months, as I've gone through two additional drafts on my own manuscript. (Shush. I can hear you all impugning my claims of sanity, and that is rude.) My writer friends have been my cheerleaders, mentors, given me criticism when I needed it, rooted for me when I needed positive energy, taken me out for cupcakes when I needed diabetes.

You need to have writer friends. You will go nuts if you don't.

I was without a writing community for many years. I was quite unhappy. But you don't have to be.

Yes, the internet is a big place. And yes, it's intimidating - it's a jungle out there! But the advent of technology has allowed us to build a world that is smaller, more layered, easily searchable. It brings people together based on shared loves and interests, can tell you with the click of a button who your neighbors are. Twitter's writing chats, the blogosphere, Absolute Write, Forward Motion, and many other places exist to help WRITERS LIKE YOU connect with other WRITERS. Who are JUST LIKE YOU! But maybe not as neurotic.

So if you ache for community, if you feel like you're going stir-crazy on your own, and if you need writer friends? And if, like me, you ever thought that you didn't know where to look, or were too intimidated to engage: Stop being intimidated! Go on Twitter, and message boards, and comment on blog posts, and let people find you! We're not that scary! We're a friendly bunch, and we have all been lonely at some point.

The water is warm. Come play.

And welcome to the jungle.

6 comments:

  1. I freakin' LOVE twitter for just this reason - community. Let me tell you a story. About two years ago I was writing my YA - a story that I was passionately in love with. I was writing late into the night and just sick with how BAD a job I was doing. None of the scenes read the way I'd imagined them, the characters were flat and I SUCKED.

    I sent out a tweet with my finger hovering on the delete button. One of my followers, the awesome Kelly Breakey, tweeted back, asking to read the ms. I agreed not to delete it until she finished it. She emailed me a few days later and said she loved the story.

    I've never met Kelly. She's not related to me, so she didn't have to like my work. Long story short, I finished the book, found an agent and the ms is currently on submission!

    And that's the magic of the virtual writing community on Twitter.

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  2. I've been having the great Twitter debate with myself for a while. Maybe I'll give it a try!

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  3. Obviously, I love this entry. Twitter helped me become a part of the Alexandria chapter of the YA Mafia! There are so many extremely awesome (and talented!!) people just a few clicks away who will crack you up and give you support whenever you need it. Hooray for Twitter and crepes.

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  4. I don't write YA but I read it and I love you, Lipman so I'll be sure to check in on you guys :) Best of luck with this!!!!!! And oh...Twitter is the shiz.

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  5. Hearting this post like a madwoman! I met your blogmate Valia online and, though she can attest to the fact that I'm a total slacker at communication most of the time, I think she's awesome. And this post is so true. Writers NEED other writers. I am currently trying to find a balance in my work/writing life so that I can devote more time to my small group of writing friends and find more! Good luck you guys!

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  6. Amen. Writing is an extreme sport and best done as a team.

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