A sense of community

When you read this I will be very happily miles away at the RNA’s utterly fabulous summer conference. I will meet friends I haven’t seen for a year and speak more in three days than I do the entire rest of the year.

Writing is ordinarily a very solitary activity (well, if you don’t count the people chattering constantly in every writer’s head, and I don’t think they’re supposed to count as a community), which makes it particularly important to get out of the house and find some like-minded people now and then for at least the following reasons:

1. Other writers get you. No one but other writers can fully understand the heights of delight and the depths of despair of writing going well/badly. Non-writers don’t understand, and while the dog makes a good listener, all they can do is sigh, which lacks in true empathy after the third or fourth exhalation.

2. You’ll get some brilliant ideas. Whether it’s figuring out the current plot hole gaping in the middle of your WIP or figuring out why your cover copy seems to be driving readers away in droves, in a group these size of the RNA’s conference you’re sure to find someone else who’s solved the problem you’re currently struggling with. Now, their solution might not be yours, but if it doesn’t give you clues to help you fix what’s wrong, their success at least shows it can be fixed.

3. Books! Where there are writers, so books inevitably follow. Writing conferences have book stalls, writers are eager to recommend books they have loved, and you can get the books signed by the actual, real writer of it, which never ceases to be exciting. My TBR pile isn’t in danger of vanishing, let’s face it, but since my dread is to run out of reading matter I’m delighted at the prospect of coming back with a suitcase bulging with new worlds to explore.

The only problem, in fact, is facing up to the real world once the conference is over – but at least I’ve got plenty of imaginary places to escape to.

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