Early in 2009, three years after I started writing seriously, I hit a wall. I knew writers had to deal with rejection, but that day was just too much. I received a rejection letter from the agent, who at the time, I really had my heart set on. I locked myself in my room to pray and cry, and I realized something. If I didn’t get into a community of writers—and quick—I was never going to survive this industry.
How true that is. The writing world is brutal, and in order to make it, you have to be in the “write” circles.
Problem was, other than those super-scary writers conferences I’d heard of, I had no idea where to start. So I emailed two of my favorite authors, and Siri Mitchell was kind enough to take me under wing. I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia to meet her at the Festival of the Book, and she pointed me in the right directions. Through her, I got involved in the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Hiswriters historical fiction loop. Even better, at that festival I met a lady who had been wanting to go to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference like me, but—like me—was a big weenie .
So we went together!!!
|Five Inkies at ACFW in St. Louis|
By that summer, Gina Welborn had the idea to form a group blog. She’d seen the effectiveness of the synergy between the ladies at Seekerville, so she gathered up a group of “Contest Divas” (which thanks to discovering Hiswriters in the nick of time before contest season--I was one), and we joined together to form Inkwell Inspirations. At the time, only Jen AlLee was published. Now over half of us are. Why? Because we’re all there cheering and praying each other on. We pick each other up when we’re down. At times we even critique each others work. And perhaps most importantly, we offer each other priceless industry insider tips.
We’ve all come a long way baby.
Other important relationships to come out of those early introductions were my friendships with Roseanna White and Christine Lindsay. Newbie me tentatively approached these two special ladies and asked them to be my critique partners. Not only did I learn tons from each of them, but Christine and I are now published by Roseanna’s WhiteFire Publishing. And because she knows my tastes and editing ability, Roseanna invited me to be an acquisitions editor as well.
Last week I went to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers conference for the fourth time. And because I’m an editor at WhiteFire Publishing, it was my second year on staff. My writing relationships have continued to grow and flourish to the point that I somehow found myself at Denny’s after midnight with four very famous authors. I won’t name drop, but it seems I’m now hanging out with some amazing, award-winning, best-selling authors. And trust me, I’m listening closely and learning all I can. Some might call it networking, but to me, it’s just having a blast.
And, while hanging out with said famous authors, I ended up spending some relaxing time with Zondervan editor Sue Brower. One week later Zondervan offered me a contract as their launch author for their new Zondervan First imprint. Coincidence? Probably not. At least not on any sort of cosmic level. Torry Martin, another awesome new friend, kicked off that Blue Ridge conference with an inspirational speech about divine appointment and God connections, and I think that's exactly what happened.
People often consider writing a solitary profession, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. It’s all about relationships. So if you plan to be a writer, get-involved. Get yourself into the “write" circles.
Share with us about your writing relationships. What has worked for you and what hasn’t?