We writers write alone, it’s true — at least, most of us do. But we don’t succeed alone. If we want to get our work out into the world, we’re going to need help — and lots of it. I’m reminded of this every day.
Sometimes, when I’m stuck with a plot point, I call my wonderful sister Stephanie and we brainstorm for a while. Sometimes, when I’m feeling low and things aren’t going well on the writing front, I’ll call Steph or a friend for a boost. And sometimes, I’ll turn to Alex or my husband David for some TLC and encouragement so I can keep going.
But sometimes, I need a different kind of help. I need a fresh perspective or a shot of adrenalin from another writer who’s succeeded in the arena that I’m playing in. Just recently, for example, I went to an event at my local library. A well-published YA novelist was speaking via Skype to a small group of teenagers. The event was organized and hosted by a young, energetic librarian who runs the YA section of my local library.
Through the Skype session, I had had a chance to hear how another writer came up with a popular series. She talked about finding a premise that intrigued her and then spinning it out into a set of characters that proved very appealing to teen readers.
After the event, I chatted with the YA librarian for a while and told her I was working on a novel. I told her about the story and she sounded enthusiastic. I asked if she would read it — and she agreed. It took her a while, but we finally arranged a feedback session and she gave me some very helpful insights and suggestions.
Just having a fresh set of eyes look at my story was immensely helpful. It was rewarding to know that she really liked my main character and writing style and use of magic realism. But what was really valuable was her take on areas she thought could be stronger: the ending, for example. While I’m not going to change it for the time being, her comments have challenged me to ponder a different, more satisfying way to wrap my tale up. Whatever happens, having this feedback is going to be valuable going
forward. So, if you need help or feedback, just ask for it. And write on!