When I started writing in January of 1997, I had no idea what I was doing. It would be a number of stories and three novels later before I started writing Tidal Flats in January of 2013. So there’s the story of all the people who helped make Tidal Flats a real book, but that’s only part of the story of how I kept myself going all these years as a writer without the most accepted, and most hoped for, form of validation–publishing a book.
A big part of the answer is YOU. All of you who read a post and left a comment or emailed. You have kept writing novel after novel without publication from feeling as if I were writing in a void. Particularly when I hit that low point back in December of 2014 and began the one true thing a day, so many of you came out to support me. I’m happy to be able to officially thank you in the Acknowledgments section of Tidal Flats.
While we are working away on something that may take years and years before it appears in the world, the single most important ingredient to keep going is to feel as if we are being seen and heard. And the way to do this is through community.
It might be a writing group, an MFA program, a group on Facebook, a writing conference that you return to over and over, a writing program where you volunteer, a residency where you work during the day but have dinner together at night.
I am so solitary and private and need so much time to myself, and yet, looking back, this is how I kept myself going–other people.
Without understanding that was what I needed, I sought communities and found them. And I have been so lucky. In 2007, I joined a writing group. Since 2008, we have had a community here at Catching Days. In 2010 I joined the community at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2012 I became a part of the community at Ragdale. And starting in 2013, I became a part of Writing by Writers.
Many thanks to all of you for being out there and responding to my writing, for bolstering my confidence as a writer, and for making me feel part of a community.