Happy Thursday, everyone! I wanted to share something with you that has me really inspired and motivated. Y’all know that I’m working on revising a novel and that I love writing, but sometimes being a writer can be rather lonely. You have a working relationship with your laptop, after all.
About six months ago or so (not sure the exact time), I discovered an amazing network and community of writers on Instagram. Since then, I’ve developed friendships (yes, purely through social media, which might seem weird to some of you) with many different writers and authors all over the world. We push each other, we support one another, and we build each other up.
Writing is tough—sometimes, the words don’t want to come. Sometimes I want to quit. Sometimes I read over what I’ve written and wonder why I ever thought I could be a writer in the first place. Having a great support system at home is key, but being able to share my frustrations and struggles with other writers is even more critical because they understand in a way that a non-writer cannot. (I’m fully convinced the brains of writers are wired differently.)
This past weekend, I took part in an online writing retreat that was organized by several members of the Instagram writing community. The Pondering Writing Retreat began at 8am on Friday morning and ended late Sunday night—all of it online. This retreat had different sessions every single hour of each one of the three days, starting at 8am and running till 11pm or so every night. During some sessions, one or two writers would go live on Instagram, and we would all sprint (write as many words as we can together in short, concentrated period of time) together. Some writers hosted live chats or Q&A sessions about different writing topics. Viewers and participants were able to live chat during the videos (in the comments section), and it was really one of the coolest writing experiences of my life. I managed to write over 1400 words on Friday and then a lot more on Saturday. I even did my own live session on how to best manage time in order to give yourself more time to write.
During one of the sessions, a fellow writer shared her personal struggles—both related to life and writing—and described the moment she first came to consider herself “an author”, even though she hasn’t published a book yet. I was so motivated and empowered by her words, and it got me to thinking…
…For many years, I kept the fact that I enjoyed writing fiction a secret. When I was in college, in one of those boring classes where note-taking wasn’t necessary, I would often work on my own scribbling. Other classmates would see me filling pages up and freak out that they weren’t getting as much information from the class because they thought I was taking notes! When—or rather, if—I told them that I was writing a novel, I was often the recipient of some strange looks. I could tell that this was a “novel” concept to them (see what I did there?), and I felt as if I was being judged because I enjoyed writing and creating stories. So, I quit telling people that I enjoyed writing or that I was working on a novel. It seemed easier that way, and I felt as if it helped not stick out among my fellow college students.
My final semester at college, I needed to fill three extra credit hours, so I took an elective: Fiction Writing. It was the first time I had ever really been in a room with a group of writers, and it was a very fulfilling experience. It was also the first time I’ve ever really shared my work with anyone. Taking that class was liberating for me, and I began to realize that there is no shame in admitting that I’m a fiction writer.
So here it is: My name is Emma Woodham, and I write fiction. I have conversations with my characters in my head (and sometimes out loud when I’m alone). I use real life events and scenarios in my stories. I may not be published yet, but I am an author. And one day (hopefully in the next year), you’ll be able to buy my book because I’ve decided to self-publish my first novel.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and I refuse to allow anyone to make me feel inferior about my writing again. So what if I’d rather stay home on a Friday night and write instead of go out somewhere like most people my age? It means I save money! So what if people think I’m weird because I write? Why should I concern myself with their opinions?
You want to know the best thing about the writing community I’ve found online? There is absolutely NO JUDGEMENT. These other writers understand me because, like me, they’ve been teased and judged for their love of writing. I’m so excited to have found this group, and I can’t wait till all of us get our novels are published.
P.S. Here’s a fun tidbit for you: The title of my first novel that I published will be…