What do the following three things have in common?
1. Twenty-plus rejection letters from queried agents and publishers.
2. That time when the deadline was near and I just could not seem to finish the last chapter.
3. The feeling when I calculate the percentage of my blog’s followers who are blood relatives.
Answer: I need the support of writer friends to get through them.
Blue Ridge 2012 was my first writers’ conference. I came at the last minute hoping to learn how to turn my folder of notes into a non-fiction book. And I did learn a lot of practical things, but the connections I made with other people who shared the same goal, and some who had already reached theirs, was even more valuable.
Before the conference, I had been slogging through the writing journey alone. BRMCWC ‘12 was not the first time I had been told that someone did not like my writing, but it was the first time I had other writers hug my neck and encourage me after hearing that kind of news.
And it made all the difference in the world.
Our spouses, God bless them, do not always understand the loneliness involved in writing, or the terror that comes when other people read something personal that you've written. A community of writers can help you keep going. And now when I have writer’s block, or fear going somewhere painful with my writing, or don’t know what to do when I’ve waited six months for someone to respond to a query, I reach for my most valuable Blue Ridge souvenir—a stack of business cards.
My published friends share their experiences and let me peek behind the curtain. A blogger tells me what is working, or not working, on her site. Someone else will remind me that God can use our writing in an abundance ways and that traditional publishing is only one path. Another writer friend can help me see that a chapter or post needs a little (or a lot) more work. They all encourage me to keep writing, to follow God’s leadership, to work on my craft, and to put obedience over blog hits. And sometimes, I can do the same for them.
Because I’m not alone.
Jim Davis, a 2012 and 2013 Blue Ridge alum, is a constitutional lawyer in Alabama. His first book, Why Me? (And Why That’s the Wrong Question), will be available January 14, 2014, from Leafwood Publishers. He blogs at jimdavisbooks.com.