There’s nothing quite like immersing myself in the process of writing—actually stepping into the literary setting and taking on the personas of my characters, living through their emotional ups and downs as I figure out the twists and turns of my plot. This I do completely on my own, as if in solitary confinement—that is, other than the companionship of my characters. If things are going well, I feel an overriding sense of joy and excitement, as well as a sense of accomplishment. But more likely than not, frustration, despair, disappointment, tempered with hope and persistence, come first while I constantly reread, revise, delete, and revise again. I move slowly forward until, finally, I have enough on paper to share with fellow writers, whom I depend on for their objectivity and honest critical feedback.
With each new story I write, this is my first foray into a small tribe of writers, and I do this on both a weekly and monthly basis with two different critique groups. Most of us are introverts, but within our groups we are comfortable, and we support each other with honesty and encouragement. Then it’s back to solitary confinement.
This writing and sharing process can go on for months, sometimes years, adding a larger tribe of readers/fellow writers along the way before I reach the point of submission. However, the process of submission, too, can go on for months, perhaps years.
If and when I finally receive an offer of publication, next comes the need for a throng of writers and friends. For me, the most difficult part of the writing and publishing process is the expected and necessary self-promotion once the book is out in the world. Yes, publishers themselves give a professional start to the book along with varying amounts of publicity. But still, all authors, especially those who are new or lesser known, depend on continued word of mouth and positive written reviews to spread interest and increase exposure and sales of the book. (At this stage we also need to grow a thicker skin because there’s no way we can please everyone. Reading each review can keep me riding high or plunge me into despair, wondering why I ever thought I could be a writer. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.) Here is where an actual legion of friends, readers, and fellow writers is a necessity for success. Oh, and I can’t forget the publisher, editor, book designer, cover artist, and booksellers, who are also a significant part of that legion!
I personally find it easier and more fun to give support to my fellow authors than to ask for support in return. In fact, in the past month, three of my author friends have celebrated the release of new books, and I have celebrated with them from afar by purchasing, reading, and highly recommending their compelling books:
VAULTING THROUGH TIME by Nancy McCabe
SHELTERING ANGEL by Louella Bryant
ENEMIES IN THE ORCHARD by Dana Vanderlugt
Best wishes to Nancy, Ellie, and Dana as their books make their way further into the wide world of readers!
And I am forever grateful to those of you who have already read early copies of That Smudge of Smoke and have helped to spread the word, as well as to those who will read it in the future.
It truly takes not only a tribe, but a multitude to launch a book.