Writers have always banded together. Byron, Shelley (his wife Mary), and Keats is one of the first to come to mind for me. And of course, the whole band of Pre-Raphaelites (Rossetti, Morris, Burnes-Jones, Hunt, and Millais, etc.) whose artwork, poetry and writing spanned decades, with many different styles, subjects, and scandals.
There’s a reason writers do this: it’s called like-mindedness, and it’s a practice that continues to great extent today. They’re even portrayed in shows like Castle, where mystery writers Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane and, until his death, Stephen Cannell get together to for their poker nights and brainstorming sessions. One big difference, though, is that thanks to the joy that is the interwebs, we’re no longer limited to keeping groups within easy travel distance.
I’m lucky enough to have my own wonderful group of writers scattered across the globe. It’s full of people who understand me and what I’m talking about, offering endless support and encouragement, and a shoulder to cry on when the big Rs come in.
The other day I was stuck on a scene. I posted: “I have to kill two people on an empty residential street in the middle of the day. Help!” – and the response was not “Why?”, or “how horrible!”, it was simply, “How.”
Another exchange went along the lines of: “I burned 4 people alive today.” The response: “Now that’s cool.”
These reactions are not what you would generally hear from people who live solely in the real world and are missing that essential writer insanity.
While I appreciate all of my the support I get from my family and friends, it’s fantastic to have a group I can relax around, and say things like “wip” and “beta”, and obsess about word count without being regarded as a lunatic. They understand the importance of self-induced goals, and will be there to encourage that extra cookie, or the third rye and ginger – anything that will help you get it done.
If writing is an addiction, writers groups are also the greatest enablers. When a deadline looms, non-writers would try to remind you that there’s a life away from the computer, and that it’s okay to get out for some fresh air, see your friends, eat; writer friends are there to tie you down to your chair and force-feed you caffeine pills until that draft is finished.
I don’t know where I’d be without these guys (probably much healthier in body, but much less so in mind), so I would like to take a moment to introduce them. Check them out and be sure thank them for helping me become the slightly neurotic person I am today.