Susie’s Monthly Update (April)
Highs: Got a job in a gallery. This will fund a four-day course on Women’s Commercial Fiction in London. Hoorah!
Lows: Agent has turned down full manuscript (culmination of a six-month competition).
The hardest thing is that this process was carrying my hope and now I have to carry it on my own again.
Goals: Edit/rewrite of opening chapters – again.
How about you guys?
The Falmouth Five are communicating across the e-waves, as we do at the end of each month. We’re a diverse bunch of novelists: two women, three men, published and unpublished, writers of thrillers, speculative sci-fi, comedic crime and women’s fiction. We get together several times a year to eat and drink and crit one another’s work, celebrating one another’s successes and commiserating over problems and knock-backs.
As novelists, we’re in it for the long term. We’re the marathon-runners of the writing world. It takes much practice, much motivation, much energy and much downright dogged determination to complete a marathon. As it does to complete a novel. Only difference is, the marathon-runners know that the culmination of all their efforts will be that splendid day when they race through the streets, clapped and cheered and supported all the way. Who supports the loneliness of the long-distance writer?
Writers are expressive beings. We are also solitary. Which makes for an interesting paradox. We sit alone for countless hours, communing with the laptop or the page. Yet the very essence of what we’re trying to achieve is communication with others. We long to express something true, something that will cause someone out there to feel something, think something. We long for a connection, a response.
This is why we pay for reports from literary consultancies. This is why we join online writing communities and real-life writing groups. This is why we blog and twitter. This is why we join mentoring schemes, attend Adult Education writing classes, go to writers’ conferences and workshops. This is why we return from, for instance, an Arvon course as if from a spiritual epiphany.
We do these things because we need to be among other writers, among our own tribe; we need to find others who understand, who know. We flourish when we receive input, inspiration, refreshment, understanding. We glow when we are offered new ideas, witnessing, support, encouragement. We need to engage. We need to receive. We need to be acknowledged. When we are empty from all our expressing, response – good, positive, constructive response – fills us up. We return to our writing buoyed up and glowing from the inside out, like the child in the porridge commercials.
E.M. Forster, in Howard’s End, advises us to only connect. So next time you feel alone and empty, reach out a hand to another writer. You may be reaching out because you need your own hand to be held. You may be reaching out to be reminded that there are others like yourself out there. And you may even be reaching out a hand to help someone else who’s alone and struggling. It’s a beautiful race we are running, for all its trials and pains. And it’s a better race when we do it together.