Ernest Hemingway once said that “Writing, at it’s best, is a lonely life.” and it’s as good a description as any of the lifestyle that many authors lead. The very essence of what we do requires us to sit at a table, or a desk, or with a laptop on our knees, and really concentrate on the words that we type onto the screen. The stories we write come from inside us — thoughts that sometimes are so deeply buried in our imagination that they take some coaxing to get out — and though we may talk about our stories, collaborate on them, share them with beta readers or friends, at the end of the day it’s still just us, our minds and a piece of paper.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve discovered about this writing life, it’s that there’s a community out there to suit everybody. Though the writing itself may require us to be alone, there’s so much more to an author’s life than this.
I first found my tribe when I was writing fan fiction. I posted my first few chapters, and somebody reviewed and suggested I friend them on Facebook (thanks Mere!). And through that one message, I found a community of literally hundreds of women who loved reading and writing the same kind of stories that I did. We became friends over the internet — on Facebook or twitter — and then as things grew, I met some of them face to face. Suddenly my quiet little writing world had exploded into glorious new friendships that still remain to this day.
When I became a published author, my friendship circles expanded again. First of all I met other indie authors — the most supportive and friendly bunch you could ever want to know. Then I met readers, cover designers, models, photographers, and all of us shared a true love of the writing world. We started organising signings — weekend long events where authors, readers, editors and models would all mingle together. We drink wine and dance and have a great time. (If you want to see where I’ll be signing in the next 2 years, check my news page out).
Then, after Fix You was published, I joined the Romance Novelists’ Association, and found a whole new tribe. The RNA has amazing Christmas and Summer parties that so many wonderful authors attend, and also has local chapters that meet regularly. I belong to my local (Chelmsford) chapter, and we meet monthly for lunch and a chat. It’s one of the highlights of my month.
So now if I go back to Hemingway’s quote, I can see how narrow it is in its scope. Of course the actual act of writing can be lonely, but the writer’s life can be anything but. Whether you’re an author, a photographer, or have any other kind of interest, there’s a tribe out there just waiting for you to join them. They may be on Facebook, they may be on twitter, they may be on a whole other site I don’t even know about. But look for them, find them, join in. There’s nothing more satisfying that finding a group of people who share your passion. I know, because I’ve found my tribe!