Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Usefulness of Camaraderie


I read a great interview with Joel Willans this morning on Every Day Fiction. I’d read Joel’s story, “One Bright Moment” in May and it was exceptional. The story was sympathetic, without being overly sentimental. The characters seemed accessible and real. The language was visual and resonant.

So I read the interview with high hopes. And I got one of the most useful author interviews I’ve read in a long time. So often, such interviews are discouraging for writers looking for ways to break through the paper ceiling. It’s hard, reading how someone got where they are by a random lucky break, or how they make millions writing two measly hours every morning. Joel’s interview made me believe there was hope for my writing aspirations. Here are a few things that encouraged me:

First, Joel is a regular guy with some useful things to share. Sure, as a writer he’s a few rungs ahead of me on the ladder. But he isn’t a giant. He’s just a guy who’s figured a few things out, but still thinks he has a lot to learn. He’s publishing frequently and he’s done well in several contests. I can relate to where he is, where he’s been and where he hopes to go.

Second, Joel reminded me of something I hadn’t done in years, namely timed writing. He insisted it was helpful to him since he does better writing under pressure. I’m the same way, so I was glad to rediscover it. I tend to use the same routine when I write, but while routine is important to my writing, sometimes it needs shaking up. I have two projects I’d like to try timed writing on—the ever-elusive beginning to “The Great Divide” and a new micro still in the sprouting seed stage.

I think what got me thinking most, though, was seeing, yet again, how useful it is to be in contact with other writers. There are so many ways we influence one another, through our work, through our camaraderie, through our feedback, through our encouragement. Even through things like online interviews. Whenever and however I spend time with another writer, I find something useful to take on my journey.

If you haven’t read this interview yet, here’s a link. There’s a lot more to be mined than the tiny nuggets I mentioned.

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