By Kelly Carey
We are abuzz at 24 Carrot Writing, as one of our founders, Annie Cronin Romano, prepares for the launch of her debut picture book, Before You Sleep, due out October 9, 2018 from Page Street Publishing.
I’d like to take this time to reflect on the integral part Annie has played in our writing group and on the way our group has supported Annie on her writing journey. My purpose is to highlight the benefits of joining a writing group, encourage you to become an active and fully engaged member of a writing tribe, and to point out the significant advantages, for all writers, regardless of where they are on the writing path of belonging to a writing community.
I’m Just Starting. What Could I Possible Offer?
When our founding mother, Francine Puckly, first gathered our group of four together and suggested we start 24 Carrot Writing, I wondered what a group of barely published, novice writers, in the infancy of their writing careers could offer each other let alone a larger audience. Luckily, Francine drowned out those concerns with her dogged determination that we had big things to contribute both to each other and to the KidLit industry.
At the very beginning, we offered each other companionship as we set out on our writing voyage. And this has made all the difference in helping us persevere in the face of form rejections, harsh critiques, and self-doubt. Our shared goal, a desire to be successful KidLit writers, meant we brought a unique understanding of how it feels to struggle with plot, manage word count, construct a query letter, and suffer the pain of form rejections. We knew exactly how significant a completed first draft was, we celebrated a revision break through with appropriate verve, and we cheered raucously when publishing success found our group. Our non-writing friends and family were supportive, but our group of fellow writers offered a kinship only they could bring to the table.
That kinship is critical in a career that so often requires you to be alone with your laptop. If you are fortunate, your inner voice can help sustain you along your writing path. But, I would argue that the fresh and often kinder voices of trusted fellow writers are a necessary and crucial component to writing success.
Francine was right. No matter where you are on the path, or how new your journey is, if you want to write, if you are determined to become a KidLit author, then you have an impactful role to play in a group of like-minded writers.
We Can Cover More Ground Together
We could all agree that a single person cannot read every new KidLit book; devour every article in a trade journal; take every workshop; attend every book event; and connect with every single agent, editor, librarian, bookstore owner and KidLit author in our industry. But, if you commit to a group of writers, allow them to get to know your style, show them your manuscripts, talk openly about your writing strengths and weakness, then you will have a team helping you accomplish your goals.
Annie has recommended books that are great comp titles for Amanda’s PB. Francine has forwarded marketing articles to Annie, weeks after her contract was signed, because she knew Annie would benefit from the information. Just this week, Amanda sent me the names of two editors she felt might be a great match for a manuscript I have on submission. There is no doubt that our writing group is giving each of us extra writing focused eyes and ears to help us on our individual journeys.
We are looking out for each other, for our manuscripts, for our submissions, for our writing, and offering targeted advice and help. These informed knowledgeable connections that we bring to each other are only possible because we have freely and candidly opted to share our writing journey. You can certainly go it alone. But, a tribe will facilitate your path to success and you will reach your goal faster and with more joy along the way if you invite others on your trip.
The Friction of Give and Take Sparks Success
As Annie launches her book next month, our writing group will be out in force to help her set up her event, offer a knowing and encouraging wink, and ensure that this special moment goes off without a hitch. For months, we have acted as a sounding board as Annie worked through the steps of planning the arrival of her new book. We offered suggestions, forwarded marketing opportunities, shared Annie’s news on our personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, and helped make sure that Annie heard positive and encouraging voices when concerns or doubts surfaced.
In return, Annie has given us reason to celebrate. We are motivated by her success to send out queries with hopeful abandon. Sometimes the phrase “success breeds success” can have negative connotations, in the case of a solid writing group, I would argue that “success motivates success”. This is a rough rejection filled industry and feeling connected to Annie’s success has given each member of her writing tribe a burst of sunshine.
Having a front row seat to Annie’s success also means we have seen firsthand how a launch works. We may have been helping Annie with her book, but she has given us the opportunity to learn and prepare for our own launches. I know I am grateful that when my debut launches in 2020, I will have been a part of Annie’s journey and she will be a solid advisor who I will rely on.
Don’t Hike Alone
I love hiking because it offers the joy of communing with nature, the gorgeous vistas along the path, and the euphoric feeling of accomplishment when you summit at the end of the trail. But, I have never opted to hike alone. That seems scary and dangerous. So why would I ever choose to travel my writing path alone?
You could choose to hike into the woods, carrying everything you think you could possibly need in your own backpack. When you happen upon a stunning vista, I suppose it is glorious even if you have no one to share it with. But I would argue that the ability to share revelations, successes, and the burdens in your pack make the journey easier and more enjoyable. That is exactly what we did and why 24 Carrot Writing has become a growing and dynamic group.
The benefits of sharing your writing career are vast. Your writing tribe will keep you motivated, remind you to take advantage of workshops, greet you at conferences, buoy you when you hit writing walls, and celebrate your success.
If you are a part of 24 Carrot Writing – congratulations! You have recognized that you have something significant to offer a writing community, you have a team supporting your writing journey, and you will feel the success sparked by our collective energy. I’m so happy you decided not to hike alone!
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