A Helping Hand

I’m coming to the conclusion that writing can be a teensy bit frustrating. You can be flying high one moment and then totally without inspiration the next. Now, I realise this is groundbreaking stuff that no-one has ever written before. You may need to sit down to carry on reading. But joking aside, you don’t actually grasp the reality of it until you are doing it, and it’s a lot like parenting in that respect. A complete shock to the system.

I have also realised, however, that writers as a breed are supportive, caring and genuinely want to help each other. I know, this is a sweeping generalisation and there will always be the odd recluse who likes to tuck himself up away from the world and avoid contact with other human beings as much as possible. In general, though, through my experiences mostly on Twitter and my own fledgling blog, the writers I have encountered are caring people who want to help you through sticky patches.

In a world where publishing seems to exploding – everyone is writing and blogs and sites like helium.com give opportunities to anyone to be heard – it is a huge challenge to get anywhere. I am always reading advice on how to stand out in the slushpile, descriptions of mountains of manuscripts drowning publishers and agents, warnings that for every success story there are x number of rejections. It would be natural that in such a competitive world, every writer would be out for themselves, and offering help to someone else would be akin to shooting yourself in the foot. I remember auditioning for Oklahoma! once in a local dramatic society, and another girl had missed the rehearsal where we were given scripts and set audition pieces. I typed out the pieces for her and emailed them to her in time to practice for the big day, and she actually got the lead part and I was in the chorus. If I hadn’t done that, who knows? I could be on my way to the West End right now (probably not, but since we’ll never know I can daydream a little).

But there isn’t that kind of mentality at all. Everyone I have come into contact with since calling myself a writer has been kind, encouraging and genuinely pleased at their colleagues’ successes. I would like to take advantage of that a little.

I have set up a social network on Ning called Writing Cafe – writingcafe.ning.com – where I’m kind of hoping to start a sort of online writing group. I know there are probably lots of these already, but my Google searches haven’t really brought any to light so they must all be hiding somewhere – perhaps run by the miserable recluses I mentioned earlier. The idea is to connect with other writers  (with a little more intimacy than Twitter allows), publish pieces of writing to receive feedback (with a little more privacy than sites like Helium allow for the more bashful among us), and basically see what else people would like to get out of such a group. I also had the idea that there could be a regular online chat time.

Anyway, that’s my little contribution towards helping writers connect together. And it’s completely selfish, I felt so touched by the support I had during the week on Twitter I want to take it further. Have a look and sign up!

Writing Cafe

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