Today I attended the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group meeting (www.glvwg.org). Our member Kathy Kulig gave an informal presentation on social networking for writers. I also got to hear the usual round of success stories, welcome some guests and chat with some friends.
I'm president ex-officio this year, having done my term July 2008-2009. It's a good group, currently with 155 members, and what makes it magical is the combination of published and unpublished fiction and non-fiction writers of different abilities and different professional backgrounds.
But lately, I've found the group disheartening more than inspiring. Many of us have remained in similar places for the entire time I've participated in this group. Others have progressed, others perhaps given up on the craft.
With all this talk of social networking and marketing, it's a reminder to me of how this business has changed: from the rising oil prices and the effect on page counts in hardcover books to the rise of small, independent press... I find it dizzying. Every time I feel like I'm on the right track, something leaves me feeling derailed.
More and more people I know are pursuing small presses or self-publishing. Yet, others have not deserted the dream of a New York publishing contract.
I find that actual writing skill has less to do with success than marketability.
I find that recognizing your talent isn't enough for an agent. It's more like finding a spouse, someone who loves you and your work and can conjure great lust for your prose. Personalities have to mesh AND the writing has to demonstrate that special sparkle.
That's how my rejection letters can refer to my work as "very visual" and "highly commercial" yet still be rejections.
Writing brings us on a journey, and it's a journey where our hearts and minds will be tested. It's a journey that leads us to doubt. It's a journey where we learn to write for ourselves. It's a journey we make because it fosters happiness.
So, this blog, which will meander and have irregular posts as I search for my voice and what I have to say (yes-- they can be different), allows me to talk to others about the conversations I have with my imaginary friends. Call them characters if you must but if you're a writer on your journey, maybe my highs and lows will remind us all we're not alone.