Monday, September 26, 2022

The Levels Do Not Exist

There's a piece of writing advice, that I find similar to "write every day" kind of annoying.  Because yes, when I write (or edit) every day, each day is so much easier.  I jump write back into the story and go.  But life does not always allow for that.  But I said I was here to talk about another piece of advice.  
That advice is, find some writing partners at the same level as you and work together and all of you will be successful.
So here's a thing.  I understand where this advice comes from.  Having writer friends who will understand what specific publishing things are is a great idea.  There is a temptation sometimes for newbie writers to go hunt down the most successful writer person in their location and be like hi, we should be writer buds.  
And so, that can happen. (Usually not like that though.  Please don't just knock on doors, or cold email or DM random people.)  
But the thing a lot of people skim over, because it doesn't make as cute a narrative, is the following things.  
Let's say newbie writer you attends a writer event, you find 9 other newbie writers and the ten of you decide to form a writer collective of sorts.  It's fab, you all share pages, stories, talk about next steps.  It's super great.  
And then, one of the folks in the group just stops responding.  Various members will reach out but they just don't say anything. 
Another member will immediately get a request from an agent.  The group will be incredibly supportive.  
And then another member will get a request from an agent, and it feels like this is it, obviously this group is blessed.  
A third person will get a request and sign immediately.  They will get put under a tight deadline and they are no longer able to finish reading anyone else's pages because they have to do a huge revision for their agent.  
Everyone will understand.  
A fourth person will win a contest and get connected with an agent and publisher.  They get a pub date.  
There will be discussions of splitting the group into two parts.  It was too large anyway.  Someone will suggest that the four who do or almost have an agent should form their own group.  
And so the five remaining will determine to meet up without those folks.  But now there's one person writing fantasy and four people writing contemporary, so the fantasy person will leave.  
One of the contemporary folks will disappear and someone will hear a rumor that the other group let them join.  
Now in my I swear it's fictional example, the three remain may also get published.  And at least one of those pre-pubbed folks is gonna go on submission and not get a deal.  And one of them will hate publishing so much they quit.  
My point is not don't find writer friends and/or writer partners.  Do it.  It's really helpful.  But one of the things that people don't tell you is - for reasons of illness, bigotry, and/or general life requirements, a lot of people leave publishing. It it true of many industries.  My day job, there are a ton of people who were there my first day, are not there today.  
Some of this is perseverance.  Some of this is stubbornness.  Some of this is luck.  But when people tell you, I formed a group of similarly serious writers and we all got published, it's not that it isn't true.  It's that the people currently in their group are the ones who made it.  So it's sort of self selecting. 
If you look at any debut class of authors, about 4 years out - some of them have stopped publishing, some have changed genres and/or age categories, and some are super strong.  And three of them are probably great friends and all talk about having such good friends.  
I say this not to be depressing.  Because the core of the advice is great.  Find writing friends with similar goals.  Work together on those goals.  But if your group doesn't end up being magic, just like a lot of the rest of publishing, keep going.