Most people believe writing to be a solitary endeavor. Pop culture is littered with dozens of portrayals of the eccentric genius who goes to their room/storage locker/cabin in the woods/gorgeously haunted hotel and bangs out the next great American novel, one lonely word at time.
And for awhile, I thought this was just how it was. When I wrote Grasping at Shadows, no one but my sister and mother ever laid eyes on it. I sent my first query letter into the universe with nothing more than a little “Yippee!” told to my husband after. I read my first, and second, and eighth, and tenth rejection letters alone.
But then, I entered a pitch contest and exactly one year ago today, I stumbled across this tweet while obsessively refreshing the hashtag.
Little did Past Erin know, but she just met her critique partner, writing pal, and best bud.
Hannah and I traded manuscripts and I spent the next few weeks reading her gorgeously dark fairy-tale, fretting over if I was doing this whole new CP role correctly, falling in love with her work, and being totally terrified she would find gaping holes in mine, think I was a terrible writer, and never speak to me again. Oh Past Erin.
Fast forward to today. Hannah and I are currently working on our third books. We talk daily. Several times daily. Oh heck, I’m PMing her right now. We pass chapters of our works-in-progress back and forth like carrier pigeons. Every highest of high and lowest of low is shared. We bounce ideas off one another and talk each other out of some truly terrible plot ideas. (Thank you a million times over for questioning my choice to give the love interest wings–the world did not need that.) We recommend books, movies, hair-do’s, even parenting tricks and wins. Yes, that’s right, our daughters are the same age!
What started out as a weird experiment has blossomed into a truly beautiful friendship— just like what you hope for Humphrey Bogart and the… policeman? detective? man with the really cool hat at the end of Casablanca. Forgive my lapse in memory– #BabyCraig’s two year molars are coming in and sleep eludes us all. Also– I should just ask Hannah. I’m sure she knows.
Anyway, this whole sappy, heartfelt post is just to say, writing is tough. Don’t do it alone. Find your tribe. Find someone who is in your corner, there to dust you off when rejections pile up, and there to squeal with when the sun shines again. Find the person who can look at the roughest, messiest draft of nonsense and pick it apart to find the strand of gold in the middle of it. Find someone who can hold an entire conversation in GIFs from The Office and who truly believes your preoccupation with the Unabomber is going to lead to an awesome book someday.
Don’t be like Mort Rainey.
Find your Hannah.