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Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.
Writing is often described as a lonely business, and authors are forever characterized as miserable, addictive misanthropes. People imagine ugly rivalries and nasty cat fights, a cut-throat world of author versus author.
What a crock that myth is. Through writing, I've met people who see the world as I do. Who love words and books and stories of all kinds. Who speak the languages of craft and publishing and understand all my neuroses. Who get -- and share -- my lifelong obsession.
Through writing, I have met the best and most enduring friends I have had in all my life. I've met people in critique groups, at local, regional, and national meetings. I've made online pals who live in other countries. We may meet in person (with hugs or hearty handshakes) only every few years -- or never -- but we keep up with each other's news, cheer each other on, and root for comebacks during those times when things aren't going so well. We do each other favors, bolster each other's courage, and share knowledge rather than hoarding it all to ourselves.
The good news is, you don't have to be a big bestseller to achieve these wonderful benefits. You don't even have to be published or successful on the contest circuit. All you have to do is share the dream, the love of words, and the need to put them down on paper (or its electronic equivalent). All you have to have is the courage to tell others, "I've loved writing all my life and want to learn more."
It took me many, many years to attend my first writers' group meeting and admit that. I still remember how I trembled, how hard it was for me to admit, even in a small way, how important my dreams were to me. Would the more accomplished and experienced writers laugh? Would the published authors sneer at the idea of a regular person thinking she could break into one of the toughest businesses around? But the thing is, every writer, every published author remembers his/her first step. And nearly all of them are happy to gently guide the newcomer to the next step along the road, to get her started by offering up that helping hand.
So today, make a commitment to taking that first step – or to helping someone new who’s reaching out. You may find yourself the beneficiary of something more important than anything career-related. You may find a friend you’ll cherish for many years to come.