Over Christmas I got a lot of cool gifts, but one of the best was from my dad. A wooden bowl hand-made by his boss, with a note inside saying it was carved from walnut wood from Boone, NC, “a setting from The After Girls.” Both of my parents have always been extremely supportive of me and my writing (I had a, “do what you love and the money will follow,” “you can be anything you want to be” sort of upbringing), but it was so nice to see that my dad had gone out of his way to find a gift that could somehow be tied to my book (he also told me he ordered 5 copies, which probably explains the slight peak in Amazon ratings the other week).
I am very lucky to have supportive parents, and I know not everyone who is pursuing a creative career path does. And it’s not something you can really change, but as much as writing is done mainly in a vacuum, I think it’s still so important to find people who believe in you and will tell you that you’re going to make it. (Yes, you have to believe it yourself, but there will be times that you don’t, it’s inevitable, and hearing a few kind words from others will be crucial.)
I had a great network of writer friends in NYC, some of them from my industry (magazines), some of them from writing classes, some of them I met through friends, and I’m still trying to find that in San Francisco, though making progress (I went to a holiday cookie party with a couple of writers a few weeks ago, and we spent a good part of the time trading plot ideas). But as nice as that is, what it really comes down to is having friends and loved ones who believe in you. My parents and sister, my boyfriend, my college friends, my cousins and aunts and uncles and extended family–most of them aren’t fiction writers–but they cheer me on and patiently listen to my stresses and my vows that this writing thing is never going to work and tell me I’m crazy and still listen to me when I realize I am. It’s great, and I am so thankful for all of them. I wish all my fellow writers the same kind of support. And if you’re still working on building that kind of network, my best advice is to just be supportive yourself. Go to your friend’s shows, donate to your aunt’s charity race, listen to someone when they need to talk. If you have an agent, share your query letter with others. Lend people books and don’t worry so much about getting them back. Karma’s good that way.
Oh, and now for some shameless self-promotion (to go against everything I just said), my Goodreads page is finally it up, so take a look and be my friend if you feel so inclined!