One of the most important things in my writing life has been building a support network of all different kinds of people. Writing can be a roller coaster of a ride from highs to lows all in the same day and that's not even getting in to the emotional toll writing can take on a person.
When I first start writing I figured I'd have to do it all on my own. After all, it's not like anyone else was going to sit there and write my words for me. Then I had some awful experiences in critique groups and really decided I needed no one to help me in my writing journey. I locked up tight and had no intentions of ever looking for a support group again.
Then the post-college graduation set in and I found myself wandering onto this Twitter website where a vibrant writing community was growing and thriving. I started reading blogs, meeting people, and finally, agreeing to be critique partners with a writer I'd never met (hi Randall!). We exchanged poetry via email and letters too. I got into an MFA program and decided to try this whole critique class thing again.
This time I enjoyed the classes. There was no brutal cut downs and the students respected one another, but I realized that I wasn't in love with poetry, and to survive an MFA I needed to be. I jumped ship and joined the MA in Rhetoric program and kept trucking along.
During this time I started attending conventions and conferences. These were the true game changers in my life. I met other writers who were supportive and encouraging, and I learned more about writing and publishing than I ever had in college. I've learned so much from every convention and conference I've attended. Through those I've built a really fun, creative group of friends.
The internet has also been an amazing way to make new friends, learn more about writing and to reach out to new people. Twitter has been a great way to build a community. The #amwriting and #mswl tags have been a total game changer for me. It's been incredible finding other writers, cheering people on and learning about more books than I could ever read in a lifetime.
But it's only recently I've started to realize that there's more to a support network than just other writers. I've had support the entire time I've written. As cliché as it is, my friends and family have been there since word one.
I've been incredibly fortunate to have a family that tolerates and even encourages my writing. My mother surprised me at my senior reading and her being there was the best part of the day. She also lets me ask her strange medical questions without giving me too much side eye.
In high school, friends actively asked me about what I was writing, wanted to read my newest projects and taught me how to take a critique but still love the critiquer. They've been there for me when I'm heartbroken over rejection (usually with pizza and chocolate in hand), and they've helped me see my writing through the eyes of a reader. They let me babble on about ARCS and Twitter contests and try to understand the process. They are the true support beneath my wings and while I'm grateful for my writing support network, I will always be in debt to my friends who have seen me through to where I am now.
Happy late Valentines. I don't say it nearly enough, so thank you and I love you all.