The Importance of Connections
Posted on my original site on 9/08/18
As a writer I feel like networking is super important. It enables us to gain better understanding of how the literary world works. It also helps us get our names out there in a way. Often, when we go to conventions or Cons, we’ll meet the same people.
I feel like going out and meeting other authors and editors is super important. It enables us to learn more about The Craft, to get an idea of where the industry is heading and why. I’ve been to a few Cons, and I can honestly say the experience taught me a lot. Meeting other authors, taking cues from their experiences, discussing ideas, learning what not to and what to do.
All these are so important, but I think something else that has been a pleasure is watching them grow. I find myself often trying to encourage those I meet, offering a congratulatory word or empathizing (if possible) with their struggle. All too often we authors have some similar if not the same experiences.
I suppose that knowing how tough this business is I don’t want to compete, but rather cheer them on to success. I feel like writers should support each other, offering encouragements when needed because of how hard this business truly is.
If I see a tweet of an author finishing their first novel, I congratulate them. If I see them depressed I try to come along and lift them up. If they are stuck in a particular place I try to offer help. Like I said it’s important.
As writers we live in a different world and see the real world differently. All to often it makes us feel alone and isolated in it. Most of our efforts are focused toward the images dancing about our minds, where landscapes, people groups and entire civilizations thrive.
Sometimes it’s difficult for us to convey these things, to help others see what we see. It’s why our words are so important to us when we pen them down. We hope that once put to the canvas that is our trademark, the words, and worlds we write will come alive to others in the same way as they have to us.
But again that’s why I try to be so supportive of the authors I meet. Because our experiences on this journey aren’t so dissimilar. Because I remember those days where I felt like (and still do at times) everything I write is nothing more than glorified crap. It’s also because I enjoy watching the people I know succeed.
Years ago, when I went to GenCon (please don’t ask me to quote the year, lol), I was invited to a brunch with other writers. Now, mind you, I wasn't even close to being published. I was full of ideas with a world not even fully constructed. I had a language I created that was rudimentary at best.
But as a new writer, while I sat at the table with other authors who were published and editors who had already reviewed hundreds of books, I was blown away. These wonderful people were so protective, asking me questions about who I had talked to, offering advice to keep my work from being stolen or to protect me from being taken advantage of. It left quiet an impression.
I was a nobody, and here were people that were where I wanted to be. Here were people that didn’t know me from Adam and yet, they were taking the time to teach me that things I needed to be aware of as a new author. I’ll never forget it.
It became the reason why I want to take every opportunity to help another writer I may encounter on this journey. Because while we strive for the same things (and the business is fierce) I firmly believe that by helping each other grow and become better, then it will be a stepping stone to success.
I never want to be the guy that becomes successful and forgets what it was like to be the one struggling to get noticed. I just can’t. If another writer asked me for an opinion on their work, I’d give it, but I would also offer ways to help them improve if they needed it. My goal would be to help them become better and fall more in love with what we do.
Connections in this business are what will help us move forward. They provide us with a means to learn and grow. For example, at DragonCon, I got a chance to reconnect with John Helfers. John is a really incredible guy and I first met him at GenCon a long time ago. John is the Literary Project Manager at Stonehenge Editorial. His website is Stonehenge-Editorial.com . If you need an editor, check him out.
After meeting him at GenCon, I had decided that once I finished with my set of novels, he would be the guy to help edit my work. Sadly at the time, life happened, and I didn’t write for a long time afterward. But after reconnecting, I still feel like he’s the guy to edit my work. I even joked with him about the slip of paper he gave me with his email address on it (because I still have it, lol).
Chris Jackson, is another author I met years ago at GenCon as well. I always feel like I learn something talking with him. Watching his success has been really great. It encourages me, because the things I struggle with, and learn, I also see that he has been there too.
It helps me to know that I am on the right track, I just have to keep pushing on, until I finally get there with my stories. Then I can have the opportunity to pay it forward for someone else. If you want to check out some of Chris’s work by the way you can find it at Jaxbooks.com.
As it stands, I hope that as I learn more about social media and connect with other authors, I can make friends with people to share ideas with, encourage and be encouraged by. In the end, we all love a good story and I think that if we learn to help each other tell it well, then success is not an impossibility. Most importantly, we have to know how to take criticism. Without it we cannot grow, develop, and become the people we are meant to be.