Archive for August, 2012

The Exposed Writer: Connect with other writers

I like scouting for blogs that make a good read and in the process of doing this I get to learn what other writers are thinking and what their experiences are. I came across one particular blogger who mentioned in a post that writers are often lonely, a situation that adds to various other difficulties encountered in the writing journey. I found this interesting in light of the fact that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of freelance writers out there in the cyberspace, most of them doing similar kind of work. If you doubt this, check the number of people who run blogs, subscribe to active writers’ forums or publish books, including self-publishers.

This left me thinking, is it really true that writers are lonely or do they just create that loneliness with their actions (or lack of action)? Whatever the answer is, I firmly believe that writers should not be lonely at all. Every writer belongs somewhere; you just need to find the right place to fit in.

A lonely writer is like a piece of wood trying to ignite on its own just a few meters away from a bonfire. A single piece of wood remains cold and ineffective but once it gets into the bonfire with other wood it burns brightly. Writers like you and me should never be alone.

A year and a half ago I began to attend a local literature forum, AMKA – Space for Women’s Creativity, and discovered what it means to be what I call an exposed writer. Prior to that I had been all on my own, spinning poems, short articles and unfinished stories by the month (I didn’t write that frequently). For some reason I thought I could make it on my own like a lonely traveler but it turned out to be a tough job. Of course I was doing quite a bit of reading and research on the net but I still felt inadequate as a writer looking to establish a freelance career. Then one day, a friend asked me how I was doing in my writing and I replied that it was not picking up as I expected. He suggested that I look for “people of like-precious-faith” to mingle with, meaning people who have a similar passion for writing, and that is exactly what I did.

When I joined AMKA it immediately became obvious that I needed to learn a lot of things. I spent the first few months simply listening to the discussions, without submitting any of my work or offering my critique to other writers, though the forum encourages members to do both. Mingling with other writers on a regular basis provided not only a sense of belonging but also opened the door to opportunities I wouldn’t have accessed on my own. It was through this forum that I got my first short story published in an anthology. I equate this literature forum with the bonfire mentioned earlier.

It is healthy for writers to stay close, work together, and uphold each other especially during difficult times, which are bound to come. Every writer’s journey has its own set of unique experiences, both good and bad; it helps to share this with someone who understands, or better yet, someone who has more experience in the field. In the process of rubbing shoulders with other writers in different settings you become ‘exposed’. As a result, you get to expand your own thinking and embrace new ideas and developments in the writing field.

Mentoring quickly comes to mind as a vehicle through which every writer can get ‘exposed’. Though it is a learning process, the responsibility of ensuring that the learning takes place lies more heavily on the shoulders of the one being mentored. The exposed writer is, therefore, one who is able to take advantage of learning tools and opportunities offered during a mentoring process and translate them into success. The exposure comes through networks, writing forums, workshops, seminars, and reading relevant literature. The exposed writer is therefore neither working alone, nor missing out on important events that can help to build his/her writing career.

Have you been feeling alone? You do not need to. Don’t accept it. Find a way to connect with other writers and do not fear to let them know your needs. Remember the saying that in one person lies the possibility of connecting with 100 other people; so don’t ignore an invitation to network with other writers.