Writers write. Writers write alone. Facts. But, one is the loneliest number.
We need other writers to give us feedback, to whine to every now and then, to toast our successes. We need people who understand that sometimes a good day means celebrating a “good” rejection.
I live in a city, Milwaukee, that has an incredible writing community. My personal favorite is the RedBird RedOak Writing studio. It’s a great city to be part of the literary life. We have several independent bookstores that are still surviving, which is downright miraculous, and a testament to the readers and writers in this city.
But, in the last two years, in an effort to advance my writing skills and knowledge, I started applying to juried conferences. It was at these conferences where I met writers from all over the country and realized how difficult it was for them to find a community of writers to meet with, to critique work, to support each other. I now have friends from these conferences (Tin House, New York State Summer Writers Institute and Aspen Summer Words) that I interact with online.
Next month, I am off to Bread Loaf in Sicily – and honestly, I’m experiencing some jitters about that conference. There will only be six of us in the fiction section – and I’m battling the “am I worthy?” buzz in my head. Through the magic of Facebook, I have located one other attendee and I messaged him, confessing my angst. He has attended Bread Loaf in Vermont previously and was very kind, supportive and encouraging – including saying that I would “find my tribe” at the conference. It is true – conferences can be a great way to meet other writers if you are struggling without any near you.
At Tin House, I met Sabra Wineteer, who has guest-posted here about winning contests to go to juried conferences. Sabra is a great writer and an ambitious, generous spirit. She has been pouring her energy into forming a new online literary community, Talking Shop. This effort will offer another great way for writers to “find their tribe.” I hope you’ll check out her indiegogo campaign, and if it interests you and you can spare some money, please pass it on to her. I don’t think I’ve ever fundraised here before, but this is a cause I believe in. Sabra will make this happen. Maybe some Pamwrites readers can be part of helping her get started?