Guest Post: Deanna Roy on Getting By As A Writer With A Little Help From Your Friends

Kindergarten author talk

By Deanna Roy

There are a lot of lonely jobs out there. Night security. Toll booths.

I once worked at a huge event arena, where my sole job was watching a panel of red lights in case one light up.

When I first became a full-time writer, it seemed like a dream.

No more pesky day job! No more distractions! I could write all day.

Then reality hit.

I was by myself, in my house, and expected to create fascinating people, colorful locales, and dynamic dialogue, all while sitting in a chair.

So I got on Facebook. I would Tweet. It’s part of the platform, I said to myself. I tried coffee shops. I convinced myself that people watching was research. But really, what I needed was a coworker.

Someone who understood what I was going through.

RWA book signing

I was lucky, though. In every step of my publishing journey, I had a lot of writer friends. I’m not afraid to join groups, to start groups, to coerce people to show up for my groups!

As my circles expanded from local writers to ones online, I began to understand how important these connections had become.

And it wasn’t just to keep the Total Hermit Lifestyle at bay. We could share our struggles, puzzle out our problems, cheerlead each other, and help with deadline accountability.

No matter where you are in your journey, finding others to walk beside you, whether on real or virtual paths, is critical. You may believe that you need to already have an agent, a contract, a book published, or a bestseller to feel comfortable reaching out. But it’s not true.

All along the way, I got to walk with writers who were facing similar obstacles. We subbed to agents and pored over query letters. We did overnight beta reads and tried to decipher rejection letters to divine our publishing futures as though the words were tea leaves in the hands of a fortune teller.

As you move from one phase of the process to another, your interests and needs will change.

You find hitting a new goal doesn’t mean you automatically have a million new friends, but it does involve a different set of hurdles and expectations.

Navigating success takes just as much help as working to get there.

There is no magical place where suddenly everyone opens their arms and tells you to join the party. Only as you look back do you realize the friends that you have supported, cheered, and commiserated with along the way are the ones you treasure the most.

So don’t write in obscurity.

Find a place where everyone has the same hopes and challenges as you. If you like to do it in person, find a local chapter of SCBWI (for kid lit) or RWA (romance) or Sisters in Crime (mystery) or any of the local writer groups or meet ups. If you like to start out from the quiet security of home, try places like Kboards and Verla’s SCBWI Kidlit Blue Boards and Romance Divas.

Everything that has happened to me in the process of getting over thirty titles out into the world was not just a product of my own work and initiative. I am the sum of all the things that have been taught to me, the lessons I learned by failing, and watching people approach my path from their own. I made it a priority to stay in touch with these fellow travelers, no matter where their journey took them next, or if their climb to a similar goal was faster or slower than mine.

My next project is absolutely a product of the friendships with kidlit writers I’ve met along the way.

The Adventure Collection is a boxed set of books for middle grade readers from writers I know both online and locally. When Apple iBooks wrote me to ask what I could put together to be featured on their site, I knew exactly who to call. The people who had been with me all along.

Cynsational Notes

Deanna Roy is the author of many books for children and tweens, as well as a long line of adult fiction.

At book signing.