By Sue Ann Jaffarian
For the most part, writing is a solitary venture. But this past week I was reminded how important it is for writers to bond with one another. I’m not talking about career networking or about having drinks with writers you only see at conferences. (Although that can be a hell of a lot of fun.) I’m talking about real bonding, becoming friends and mentors. Writers sharing quality time one-on-one with other writers, discussing dreams, hopes, and problems, and brainstorming together to get over the humps and bumps of the frustrating business of writing.
In the past week, I had dinner with three fellow mystery authors. Last Tuesday, it was promotional brainstorming with Morgan Hunt. Friday, Tim Maleeny and I swapped goals of writing full-time and plotted some joint marketing ideas. And this past Sunday, I spent a couple of hours over a chicken pot pie with short story author Kate Thornton, who is finally sitting down to write her novel. I came away from each dinner high on writing and filled with new ideas and a fresh outlook on some old ones, and I hope they did, too. And, then, there’s the laughter. When writers get together, there is always laughter.
We all have friends and family who lend us support in time of emotional need, but unless they are also writers, they cannot really understand our passion when hashing out plot glitches or publicity frustrations. I’ve seen the eyes of many a friend glaze over and can almost hear them say: “There she goes again.” Neither do they fully understand what drives us to sit hour after hour alone pounding a keyboard. And seldom do they appreciate the “other world” that exists and flourishes inside our heads without wondering if we should seek professional help. After all, isn’t what we do a bit psychotic? But in a nice way, of course.
But another writer, that’s a different story. Another writer understands when we discuss poisons and dismemberment, kidnapping and blood spatter patterns. Another writer understands when we curse the evil and chaotic business of publishing, yet cling to the desire to be a part of it. Another writer understands our particular type of psychosis, because they suffer from the same affliction.
So in the next week or so, make sure you get together at least once with another writer, even if it means taking time away from your writing. Think of it as psychotherapy for the price of a meal … and it’s a lot more fun.