I’ve made a lot of friends through writing. Many of these are in real life: through my university course and local writing networks. Many more have been via social media. It’s been a strange experience in many ways, particularly ‘meeting’ people virtually. Some of my online friends I’ve since met in real life and they’ve been every bit as delightful as they are in the ether. Some, I know I will never meet, and that makes me sad, because they are people I feel I have a strong friendship with, even a deep affection for, despite never having met them face to face.
In today’s writing world, I think there is no stronger tool than collaboration with other writers. In the days of ink and quill, writing was considered a rather solitary affair, but not anymore. In our rapidly shrinking world, we have so many ways to link up. We’re in constant contact every day, updating each other from across the globe about how many words we’ve done, when we’re taking a break, how our editing is driving us nuts. We participate in blog hops and Nanowrimo and virtual launch parties. Some of us take these relationships, cherish them and build on them, because we understand that you can’t make it alone. People just like you are the people who will root for you, will retweet you, will send readers to your blog, will beta read for you and critique with the best of intentions, will give you heads-up on news, will egg you on when you flag. And you will do the same for them. In my opinion, that’s how it should be – a community based on mutual respect and collaboration.
But I have also encountered the flip-side of this. Take this example: A friend on twitter chats to a friend of theirs who has exactly the same interests as me, has other mutual friends, even writes the same genre. I follow that person, attempt to chat to them, and I’m ignored. I don’t understand why. Not for a minute am I suggesting that everyone has to follow me because I follow them, or reply to me when I mention them, but I fail to see the logic in not doing these things when we quite clearly have so much in common. We have all the necessary ingredients to make another strong link in the chain; why would you throw that opportunity away? Why would you actively set yourself apart from other writers like you? What does this achieve?
Sometimes, I admit, I feel envious of others I consider vastly more talented/ successful/ popular than me; I’m a human being, after all. But I fight those feelings because I think that life as an indie author is hard enough without negativity taking hold and without alienating yourself from the people who could support you on your journey, just as you can support them. I’d rather try my best to be happy for others, even when I have a down day and I don’t feel like it, than sit stewing in my juices. The writing journey is a much more fulfilling one when you can share it with people who understand each step.