Lessons Learned – Finding Your People

Guest Post by Natalee Cooper
Natalee Cooper didn’t find her love of reading until after high school. (When it was no longer required!) It all started with her beloved Scarlet Pimpernel, Mr. Darcy, and anything Georgette Heyer. Her love of writing came a few years later, and like books, her passion for writing often keeps her up well into the night…or technically, morning. Natalee resides in Utah with her husband and three children. She just completed her first book, a contemporary romance, which is currently in the hands of a couple of publishers for review.

Almost every moment of every day, a writer’s brain is teaming with writerly things—plots, story structure. Protags. Antags. Their WIP. Sinister henchmen. The perfect kiss. Clever ways to kill someone off…

Yeah. The list goes on and on, crowding up our minds, and adding to our countless other musings. It gets wild in there, but we live for it. And for me, having people who understand my love of the craft is vital. It keeps me sane. And motivated.

It’s also something I didn’t realize I needed as a writer when I first started down this crazy, hard, yet extraordinary path. In fact, I didn’t even share I WAS a writer with anyone for eight years. When I did break down that super scary wall, and open up about my writing, I learned two very important lessons.

First lesson: Hold tight to the support of family and friends.

I have a handful of people (the non-writer type) always on the sidelines cheering me. It’s incredible. They are the few who truly want to know how my writing is going. I don’t have to give them the generic, “It’s great!” line. I can ACTUALLY tell them about my twenty-four hour binge on Coke-a-cola and chocolate covered cinnamon bears while I tried to write up a synopsis (notice I didn’t say finished said synopsis…) and they care. They may not be able to empathize but they get the big picture. Because they value ME. They’d be just as supportive of me as a painter, or a fencer (one day, sigh), going for a masters, or choosing to be a stay at home mother. This is important because the life of writing and publishing is hard and rocky and pot-holey. So hold onto those who get that what you are doing is important to you. Tightly.

Second lesson:

Wait. I’m going to share a little story first so you can better see the difference between lesson one and two. Stay with me.

A while back I was working on a scene at the end of my book. One paragraph wasn’t reading right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked my hubby to read it out loud, which he promptly did—in Batman’s voice. Ending each line with “Because I’m Batman.” Yep. It made for an epic kissing scene.

What does this have to do with lesson two? What is lesson two? It’s simply this: You NEED other writers in your life. Whether of the online sort, over the phone type, or the let’s do lunch kind, these people are crucial. My husband, antics and all, is great. He’s my biggest supporter and I love that. But he’s not a writer.

This is what I was missing for far too long. Like my “off” paragraph, I—as a writer—was “off” until I found and connected with other writers. People who get the constant writerly chaos in my head. People who solidly know what it is like to wait (and wait) to hear back from an editor or publisher. People who understand the excitement in hitting 2000 plus words in a day. Or know the hours and hours that go into a first draft…and second and third…

As writers and creators, putting ourselves out there, exposing our work, can be terrifying. And brutal. But surrounding ourselves with people who genuinely care and understand, is the best platform to take that plunge again and again as we continue to share our stories. So cling to the support of your family and friends. Seek out other writers. We need each other.

About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.