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Friday, July 5, 2013

It Takes a Village

By Judith Ashley

Judith Ashley
The story is that writing is a lonely business. Writers are isolated and cut off from others. While an element of that is true - only one person at a time at the computer even if there is a collaboration for example - there are aspects of writing that are anything but lonely.

I took an on-line class in May on "Book Blurbs", the copy on the back of a book or what you read when searching on-line that has picking up the book or clicking through to make that purchase. The class was taught by Laurie Schnebley Campbell, one of the founders of Writers University. There were 25 - 30 or so people in that class. Every day I read their assignments and they read mine.

One of our first assignments was to name who we'd list in Acknowledgements. Every list had more than one name and some lists were quite long.

Nancy Lytle writing as Mercer Addison, a chapter mate of mine, just published her book, Even Nectar is Poison. She posted an announcement to our chapter loop that included a Long List of people who'd helped and encouraged her specifically as well as a general acknowledgement of the benefit of attending meetings and speakers over the years.

Last week Matt Buchman's post was about "Paying It Forward". He also mentioned people who'd mentored and helped him along the way.

That it takes a village is not a new concept. I was introduced in a hands-on way to the idea of global economy at a personal growth training I attended while in my early thirties. One of the exercises had us taking a look at how 'independent' we really were. We were asked to pick an item in the room (it didn't have to be ours) and in our small group discuss what it took to bring that item into the room. I remember clearly the discussions about a blouse and a newspaper. The blouse needed someone to plant, grow, harvest, and process the cotton into thread. Someone needed to take the thread and make material. Material had to be cut and sewn into the blouse. Then there was getting it to a store, on the rack, my getting to the store and to the rack, and the clerk to ring up my purchase. And don't forget the machinery that needed to be made, transported, set up, etc. for each step of this process. The newspaper was even more mindboggling when we stopped and thought about each story in addition to the act of printing the paper.

If thinking of yourself as being in a 'lonely business' is useful or helpful, then keep on doing it. In no way do I want to suggest that people make changes that will not move them forward.

What I am suggesting is when you're thinking "writing is hard" "writing is lonely" "writing takes me away from (fill in the blank)" you stop and ask yourself how this thought serves you. How does it make your writing better? How does it help you persevere?

If you find those thoughts aren't helpful, perhaps these self-reflective questions will be.

What does serve me in my writing? What does support me on 'those days'? Who do I have in my writing life that 'gets' why I'm doing what, when, why, where, and how I'm are doing it?

Would love to have you share what does work for you...who knows, I might find something else that will also work for me.

© 2013 Judith Ashley

8 comments:

Denise Covey said...

My writing group is my little village, as well as an editor friend and inspirational bloggers who've helped me so much. I'm a great believer in how many people it actually takes to get a book published. Great post.

Denise

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by And commenting Denise. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from Alexis Harrington, who told me about RWA and my local chapter.

Paty Jager said...

I agree, it does take a village to write! I'd have a list of 50 people who over the years have helped me write. From judges of contests, to online friends and down to my handful of critique partners and friends who helped me brainstorm when I get stuck and my family who has been behind my writing from day one.

It does indeed take a village and I am humbled by the people who have helped and encouraged me over the years.

Great post!

Diana Mcc. said...

You hit it head on!! Family, spouse, writers groups, the lady who introduced me to RWA, all the blogs I read and classes I take. Critique partners, my writer friends, and all the great information I get from the RWA loops. However, sometimes I do get lonely for a face-to-face with someone who understands the writers life. The computer is an emotionally devoid piece of equipment. Great post!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks Paty and Diana - I count both of you as part of my writing village!

Naomi Baltuck said...

Well said!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Naomi.

Sarah Raplee said...

My list of the people who have contributed to my writing would be long as well, Judith. As for what works to keep me positive and moving forward (that hasn't already been said), I remind myself that I'm happiest when I'm writing. I break out the good coffee and the good chocolate. Sometimes I spend a morning in a coffee shop writing just to be among other people.