I had an opportunity to meet with a writers group this week and talk about queries. When I got there, I discovered a group of six writers who - obviously - are very comfortable with one another, not to mention supportive. Many writing groups I've encountered, however, have a fatal flaw - the, "I'm not going to tell you what I really feel about your book because we might not be friends anymore..." syndrome.
I hate to say it, but I was jealous. Because groups like this one are (seemingly) rare. Most of my interactions with other writers comes in the form of Twitter or The Blue Boards. Don't get me wrong... I've met a lot of really cool people on these (and other) sites.
But it is different.
So, yeah, I'm jealous. This group really seemed to want to make themselves (and, in turn, the other writers in their group) better at the craft. It was nice to go and be surprised by a group of writers that were funny and did not suffer from another syndrome... the, "I'm better than you and you should really understand that..." one.
After I was done meeting with the group, I drove to Portland to attend a friend's book reading/signing. Besides walking in and finding a literal who's who of YA, I once again saw a community of kid lit authors. They took pictures (which I deftly avoided... ninja skills are fairly useless without anonymity. Of course, then I found out that the picture was today's pic of the day at Publishers Weekly...)
As I drove home, I tried to figure out why both of these groups made such an impact on me. Do I need more friends? Am I needy in general? Maybe I should mix in a salad every once and awhile, because these pants feel kinda tight...
You know, the usual existential thoughts.
Between my wife texting me and a few bouts of in the car rock stardom fantasies, I didn't come up with an answer. But my best attempt at figuring it out now is that, like most people, it is nice to have contact with people who understand what you're going through. People who have - in some way - and invested interest in the same things that make get you all excited.
Because something gets lost in e-mail and Twitter. That spark of recognition, maybe, when you tell a story about how some dude offered to give you directions to Powell's via riding in your passenger seat.**
Or maybe not.
Anyway, it's about connection. That's all I can come up with. It's nice to have people close to you who understand the madness, and are within at least an hours drive.
**So, I'm lost. The stupid GPS tells me Powell's is next to this Best Buy. It's not. But, hell, maybe I just can't see it, right? So I ask some random dude who looked fairly safe from a distance. But then he's all leaning in my window, smelling like menthol and giving me the evil eye. Okay, maybe not the evil eye... still, he looked sketchy. Yeah, so he's like, "I'll just come around and show you how to get there. Luckily he goes around the back side of my car, because as soon as I'm sure I'm not going to hit him - I'm gone. That's when he pulls out a gun and starts shooting, right? I went Blues Brothers on him and took off down the road in a cloud of rubber.
(All of this is true except the part with him shooting. Seriously.)