Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.
~ Epicurus (341 – 270 BC)
Like many (most?) authors, I read a lot, write a lot, and can be a bit of a loner sometimes. I’m happy to work for hours on a story at my computer or curl up with a book (or favorite movie) when other more social/extroverted types might feel the need to go out or hang out with others. I work at home, my kids are older (college/post-college age), and my husband often has to travel for his job, so I spend much of my time hanging with our dogs. While I often go out for coffee with other writers/publishers and I’m involved in a weekly writers group, it’s not unusual for a whole work day to go by without me speaking to another human being.
That’s why I’m addicted to Twitter and Facebook and why I enjoy writing conferences.
For instance, I attended the Historical Novel Society conference in San Diego last month and met some wonderful new friends including writers, readers, agents, editors and even a couple of tag-a-long sisters which was very nice because my sister attended with me as well. I’d already read books by many of the established writers, but by meeting people face to face, I discovered new writers and new books I hadn’t even heard of. And there’s nothing quite so exciting as discovering a wonderful new writer! Okay, there are other things equally if not more exciting…depending on the mood….
Like things that Nell Gwynn did to keep her many lovers, including King Charles II, occupied. (Check out a literary three-way reading describing some of these activities here.) Or at least reading about the things Nell did. And that’s what kept me occupied last night–finishing Gillian Bagwell’s novel about Nell and her extraordinary life and many love affairs. But the best thing about the novel, which was a wonderful read, was the thrill of being able to recommend the book to friends by saying, “Yeah, you should read that. I know the author.”
And how cool is that?
Getting to know other writers and people in the publishing industry is great because everyone is so passionate–about their genre, their world building, their heroes, their bad guys, their fools. They’re passionate about their settings and time periods, (gah! sometimes I can get a bit too passionate about that), their research, and the craft of working and reworking a sentence until it is just right.
But the nature of writing is such that the passion that fuels creativity must be channeled into work that is usually done alone. The joy of camaraderie and community that is everywhere at a good writers conference is not available when you get back home and power on your computer. And even for those who choose to spend a great deal of time in a solitary pursuit, it can sometimes get lonely.
That’s where Twitter and Facebook come in (and maybe Google +?). Maintaining connections with the people I meet at conferences and following people whose work I admire or who I’d like to meet allows me to tap into that passion when I need it. It’s like a little charge of happy excitement and a little motivational thread that connects me back to a community of like-minded people. It’s like Epicurus said, to be happy during the whole course of our lives, wisdom requires us to have friends.
So to all the writers, agents, editors, publishers, readers who I’ve met over the last several years, I’d like to say Thank You. Thank you for providing the friendship that allows me to tap into your passion and to, hopefully, translate that into becoming a happier, better (dare I say, wiser?) writer.