The Writer’s Life


The image of the writer – historically speaking – is of a guy and a typewriter in a room, isolated, alone, slaving away at his craft. Writers lived lives that kept them introverted in the social sense and often at odds with other writers. Read biographies of great writers ,and you’ll read stories of the often great feuds between them.

Fast forward to today and the image of the writer is quite different. We live in a global world where the writer – even when alone at a computer in her attic room – is by no means isolated. She may be talking with someone in England or Canada or Australia or Africa or…well, you get the idea.

Todays writer cannot afford to live in isolation. Ours is a job fraught with rejection, criticism, and constant uphill battles. No one wants to take that journey alone. The writers of yesterday would be quite surprised to find how much todays writers rely on each other and the community of writers. We have local groups that keep us afloat such as critique groups and beta readers, and we have regional groups such as writer’s guilds and unions that provide us with much-needed support. We have national organizations that allow us to widen our circle of influence and to help us learn from a diverse group of people.

We have online groups which allow us to interact with people we might never meet otherwise and establish friendships that would not have been possible thirty years ago. In this regard, there’s never been a better time for writers.

As I drove to the college this morning, it occurred to me that I rarely talk to others about this. I’m blessed by this circle of friends, their insights, words of criticism and support, and sometimes, just the shared laughter and tears.

Novel Clique is my critique group. A sisterhood of writers who close down Border’s once a week and laugh and cry with abandon. I’d be lost without them.We began as a group of unpublished writers and have stayed together and grown together. We’ve now celebrated as each has published.

First Tuesdays is Novel Clique’s pay it forward. We began it as a way to help new writer’s starting down that path. It’s a gentle hand of guidance from people who have been in the trenches and felt the slinging of mud and the harsh lash of criticism handled incorrectly. Once a month it’s an opportunity for laughter and shared experiences. We all learn from it.

Professional writers are generous beyond belief. It amazes me every day at the number of writers who continue to reach out to writers every where – published or not – to offer insights and support. For me, that list includes Nancy Pickard, Richard Thomas, Harlan Coben, and Les Edgerton. Successful writers are busy people; and when they take the time to reach out with a kind word or suggestions for a WIP or just  a smile at a conference, it’s important to say thank you. Thank you!

MFA’ers – you know who you are – are definitely special people to me. We shared an experience that bonded us in ways that are almost familial. Our continued contact is important to me and always will be.

Online writing friends consist of people I’ve met on blogs, Facebook, and even face to face at conferences and then, continue to communicate with online. These friendships are unique. I might never have met these people if not for technology. I enjoy the banter and exchanging of ideas and support across the miles that separate us.

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10 Comments

Filed under The Life, Writing, Writing Groups

10 responses to “The Writer’s Life

  1. Nice post and so true. In my quest to write I feel alienated at times but always seem to find a blog from a fellow writer that makes me feel like I very well could be doing something right. Also, they tell me what I’m doing wrong. Thanks to you and other bloggers for your generousity and kind guiding ways.

  2. Dawn, I never thought I would see my name in the same sentence as the names of Harlan Coben, et al! You are so kind. You should put your own name there.

    I feel that writers are the most generous of fraternities/sororities in the world. I know I’ve been given a hand up by more people than I can begin to name. Most of us know there’s room for all of us on the bookshelves and very little jealousy/envv exists among our brother- sisterhood. It’s a good thing, at least for me. I read far more books than I write and I’m just happy that there are lots of folks out there writing stuff that I’ll get to read.

    It’s just about teaching each other with respect and that happens on a regular basis.

    • I agree. The writing community is a compassionate one. It helps when the rejections are pouring in to have others who understand and believe in your talent even when you find it difficult to. The supportive nature of successful writers like yourself amaze me. I am truly grateful for your words and the wealth of good it’s doing for my WIP.

  3. This is so true and sometimes exactly what I need to keep going where my writing career is concerned. It’s easy to get frustrated by rejection and a support group whether it’s in person or online is priceless.

    I’m blessed to be a part if you core group. 🙂

  4. Such a great post Dawn. On the flip side…it’s also such a great time to be a reader! The ability to interact with an author you love on a more personal level is so wonderful…even if it’s just thru a facebook post.

    I’m really happy to have found First Tuesday!! Cant wait for January! 🙂

    • dawnall

      Good point, Nicole! I am thrilled as a reader that I have the ability to talk to my favorite writers across the internet. We’re glad you joined us. See you January 4th.

  5. I was amazed when I discovered how many people were willing AND able to help me along the writing path. The online community keeps me going and when I do meet some of those I’ve only “talked” to via internet, I feel like we’re old friends.

    Happy Holidays.

    • dawnall

      It was surprising to find the level of support that is out there. I love the fact that I have friends all over the country that I haven’t met yet. I’m ready to take road trips to conferences across the country so I can meet them.

      Happy Holidays to you also.

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