Birds of a Feather Flock Together

This weekend I’ll be attending a small weekend writers’ retreat, and I can’t wait! (See details at the end of this blog.) Writers love hanging out with each other, because only other writers can counsel each other on our own unique problems. Only other writers understand where we’re coming from when we talk about our characters like they really live(d). Another writer once asked me how I make my characters so “real.” My answer was because they are real … to me. They are people from the past, speaking to me in spirit. And the more “real” I write my characters, the more real they become to my readers. Only another writer would understand how “alive” our characters are to us. 

And only other writers understand about “sagging middles” (I’m talking stories here, not bodies), or how to rope in readers with your first line or first chapter. Only other writers understand the problem of writing yourself out of the corner you’ve written your characters into. Only other writers understand the drudgery of realizing you’ve taken a wrong direction and need to scratch several chapters and start over. Only other writers understand the horror and “I want to shoot myself” problem of a computer suddenly eating our last chapter or chapters and spitting them out into “cloud land” where no one can find them. “OMG! I have to re-write half this book!!!” Believe me, once that part of the story is out of your head, it’s very, very, very hard to go back and do it over. It’s just not the same, and writers understand that awful feeling.

Only other writers understand what it’s like to be humming along with a book and suddenly the writing program you are using decides to inexplicably change font, or change borders or spacing, or switch from left alignment to center. There are numerous weird things the computer can do to us, for no reason whatsoever. “Oh, I must have hit a certain key to make this change happen – but WHAT KEY?? It’s a terrible feeling to not know how in heck to get back to your chosen layout.

Only other writers understand the terrible hurt of remarks like – “Oh, you write those sex stories.” Only other writers understand the hurt of sitting in a book store with your own books in front of you, but a customer comes up and asks where they can find so-and-so’s latest book – i.e. “do you work here?” And when they learn you’re there signing your own books, it’s “Oh, you wrote these?” If I posted the answer I’d like to give them, I would probably use words I shouldn’t put in a blog!

Only other writers understand how hard it is to sit at a computer for hours and hours, day after day, week after week, month after month. It does a number on your body no ditch-digging could do. Our stories can’t be written in a week or even a month. There are so many facets to starting, finishing, editing, rewriting, editing again and likely another re-write and edit before even sending a book off to the publisher or self-publishing the book. It would take a completely different blog to go into all of that. What it boils down to is, “It ain’t easy!”

Only other writers understand how hard it is to remove yourself from riding the range “out west” or wielding a sword in Scotland, and then suddenly remembering that it’s time to get away from the computer and go cook supper. Writers swing back and forth from fantasy to reality all day long. Even when I’m in the “real” world, I am often “writing in my head.” My books are with me 24/7.

The writer’s world can also be lonely. It can add to the problems you already have in real life – or – it can be a way to escape real life. And personal family problems or physical problems can wreak havoc on our ability to write. Pure havoc. Either type of problem can sometimes destroy our ability to write.

Only other writers know the joy of being around those who know and understand all the trials and tribulations of being a writer, as well as the highs and lows, the sorrows and the joys. Writers develop unique friendships unlike the norm, friendships that last, people who stay in touch often, even if one of us moves away. That’s why I truly look forward to the big conferences I go to nearly every year (Romantic Times and Romance Writers of America). I meet writers with whom I have been friends for 20 years or more. And, I have to say, I’ve also created long-lasting friendships with READERS, many of whom I’ve stayed in contact for years.

The get-together I look forward to most is our own Mid-Michigan RWA Chapter’s “Retreat from Harsh Reality.” It’s a small group – 30-40 attendees – it’s totally laid-back (jeans and sweat shirts) – it’s held at a small resort on a lake – and you have the opportunity to gather in small groups of 2-4 and talk about your writing – your ideas – your problems – perhaps talk about how to write yourself out of that corner you’re stuck in. Always, always, in such conversations, I come up with new ideas – and very often I’m hit with the realization of “why didn’t I think if that?” Sharing ideas is the best part of getting together with other writers. 

“Birds of a feather flock together.” I don’t know what you’ll be doing this weekend, but I’ll be chilling out at the Bay Pointe Inn on Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan, enjoying Mid-Michigan RWA’s Retreat from Harsh Reality and sharing ideas with other “birds” like me. This retreat is for all writers, from brand new and unpublished, to oldies like myself with multiple books out there. In this occupation there is always room for learning new things and finding new ideas. That often happens at this retreat. I hope those of you who didn’t know about this special weekend, or who couldn’t come for whatever reason, will keep it in mind for next year. It’s always held the end of April, so watch for next year’s retreat announcement. It’s worth the small cost to come and meet other authors and learn from them! And yes, even if you’re a fan/reader and not a writer, come join us! You just might go home and decide you want to write, too!


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