Anyone who has reaped the benefits of a good foundation garment knows the importance of support. Without it we sag. Flag. Droop.
And nobody wants that. It's...sad. And, frankly, kinda ugly.
Ignore for a moment the perky and firm among us. Be honest--we hate them anyway, don't we?
Let's speak instead of those of us who require a like-minded group of friends and colleagues to walk with us through the forest of life, whistling in the dark, braving the dangers that lurk around every bend.
(What? The foundation garment was a metaphor. Sheesh. You didn't really think I was going to write a whole post about boobs, did you? True, bra shopping is fraught with peril, but that's a post for another day. In this case, the "firm" and "perky" I was referring to are those people who stroll blithely through life without a stumble, a trip, or a crash, needing no one but their firm, perky selves to navigate the pitfalls. I've never met one personally, but I'm sure they must exist. Though I suspect it's mainly to annoy the rest of us.)
Most of the writers I know are amazing mashups of neurotic insecurities and horrendously large egos. Sure, we know we're brilliant, but what if nobody else recognizes it? What then?
Those writers among you who take issue with the large ego part...come on. You know the odds of succeeding in this business. How every step along the way--finishing a book, querying agents, getting a request for a partial or a full, finally landing an agent, and then selling your book to an honest-to-God publisher--is exponentially more difficult that the previous one. If you didn't have a big enough ego, you'd give up before you even started. But you're here, aren't you? Still trying. Persisting against the odds.
Yeah. You know you're good.
Most of the time, leastways. Except when you don't. Except when the Doubt Monster attacks.
This is where support comes in, preferably in the form of a writing group. A good writing group is a lifeboat in the shark-infested publishing waters. Your fellow group members are food and drink, sustaining you while you float around waiting for rescue.
If you're really lucky, some of your fellow lifeboat passengers are critique partners--people who read your work and provide helpful commentary, and vice-versa.
A good crit partner understands when you need your ego inflated and when you need harsh, unvarnished truth. You can go to her with questions like, "Does this suck suck, or only suck?"
And she will answer, "It's only a tiny bit sucky, totally fixable."
And, if you ask for suggestions on how to fix it, she won't be offended if you wind up doing something totally different, because she knows just brainstorming with her helped you tremendously.
Not everyone in a writer's support group has to be a crit partner. It's okay if some just provide moral support for the process, and friendly interaction/commiseration when needed. These are the ones who will happily listen to your rants privately, thus keeping you from popping off and saying something insane in public. (Even if--or maybe especially if--it's true.) Believe me, for this alone, they deserve a place on your acknowledgments page.
Should you ever get an acknowledgments page, I mean.
Which, I believe, is more likely if you have a good group of writers helping you along the way.
So, thank you to my group. For listening. For providing advice and support. For throwing cookies at my Doubt Monster, distracting it from feeding on me when I need to be working. And mostly for being there in the boat and keeping me focused. You sparkle, every one of you. :)