Finding Support From Other Writers, by Stephanie Cowell
It is critical for a novelist to have a support group of other gifted writers. What used to be the world’s loneliness profession has now become one of the most gregarious ones with social media and email.
But you need support… because writing can be daunting. It can take many years to bring your vision to the page in a full enough way that an agent will accept it and a publisher will buy it. If you work at a regular job, you know that if you show up and do a good job every day you can in most cases expect to keep your job and earn enough for your needs. In writing novels it is hard to predict anything unless you have already sold incredible numbers of your other books. You cannot predict what you will earn. You cannot predict how long it will take to do. You cannot predict the public taste when you DO publish it.
No one can understand a historical novelist like another historical novelist. No one else can understand your sixteen drafts or why you simply had to travel to Greenland for research.
For ten years I had an extraordinary writing group. We met monthly at one of the women’s houses and everyone brought food… oh that food! I know I gained five pounds at least. We were eight to ten women and we had food for twenty. First we set out the food. Then we talked. We held hands and prayed for each of our needs. Then we ate and talked about everything… drafts, families, finding an agent. Finally we settled down and each writer took turns reading. We were four historical novelists, one historical playwright, a few poets and a few contemporary novelists. We supported each other in every way. We laughed and cried together; we called each other up late at night and talked about writing and relationships. If anyone had a problem in her work, we brought all our collective strength to it.
Almost none of us were published when we began and all of us were published at the end. When I sold my first novel Nicholas Cooke: actor, soldier, physician, priest, all the women bought T-shirts with the book jacket cover printed on them and did a kick dance in a row. Eventually, the novelist Judy Lindbergh brought her novel about 10th century Greenland to my agent, who sold it to my editor. Some of us got published in small journals; several of us got published and continue to get published in children’s, young adult and adult historical fiction.
Times change, several members moved away and the group unfortunately ended. We all still remain in close contact. We send draft novels to each other by email for comment and help.
Now, in addition to these women, I have reached out to so many other historical novelists on the web. If I love someone’s book, I write to her or him. I read, edit, blurb and review books and others do the same for me. We share information about our field.
Reach out to others. Start a support group.
Stephanie Cowell’s author website: www.stephaniecowell.com
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Writing Historical Novels