Supporting Each Other

There’s a man I met several years ago at a writers’ gathering we both attended for a while. He brought his manuscript and read selections from it. Soon that manuscript became a book, and he had his first signing at Barnes and Noble. I just happened to be the first person to arrive to congratulate him, buy his book, and have him sign it. He never forgot that.

My book was published shortly before the Southern Festival of Books the following year and was displayed in the publisher’s booth on Legislative Plaza. I had a signing there. Who do you think was the first person to arrive that Friday morning of the SFB to buy my book? Yes. He was. He made a point to drive to Nashville from out east of town and to be the first one there to see me. I have never forgotten.

Writers should support one another. Yes, it is a cut-throat, keeping-my-knowledge-secret kind of business. Writers can be friends, but they don’t always share and support. Some don’t share and support at all. Oh yes, they expect me to include them, to come to their book signings, to “like” them on Facebook, and to spread the word about their books and events. But it’s a one-way street. And I don’t understand that.

Networking is important. I have tried to do my part in informing area writers of writerly gatherings and signings and events, including all, and sadly, that favor is not always returned, even by some of my best writer friends. It’s a dog-eat-dog world; it’s all about self; it’s all about taking and not giving back; it’s about pulling everything you can inward and not reaching out to share.

And that bothers me deeply. And sometimes leaves me with a dilemma. If you are so tight to self and to a little clique of your choosing, why would I want to come hear you speak? Why would I want to buy your book? You seem to have enough with just you.

Yes, supporting each other is important. Encouraging, informing, inviting, participating. There should be a wide tent over the writing community. We are by nature loners. Some of us do not get out much. Some of us are locked in our closets writing. I truly believe we should be there for those like us and we should reach out and pull those like us in close.

Sometimes, I think people want to pull out front and keep others back. Getting ahead is what it’s all about, apparently, to some.

And that is sad.

Community: a group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.

We are thrust into the writing “community” by nature of the interest we share. It would be ideal if everyone participated in that community.

Don’t get me wrong. Some do. Some are very giving, even when they don’t have the time. Some are open and happy and want a wide tent of sharing and supporting. Some work hard to achieve that. It’s beautiful when that happens.

I notice and I don’t forget that either.


6 Comments on “Supporting Each Other”

  1. For the last three years or so, I have been meeting with another writer. We have been a writing group of two – working on our memoirs and a few other pieces on the side. She joined a state writing group, that I introduced her to where she met a self publishing organization that she ended up using. She reorganized the beginning of the book based on advice I shared with her after taking a workshop at Grub Street in Boston. She has joked a few times about how much she benefits from the things I do and pay for.
    Now that her book is coming out this month, on the phone she said she did not mention me in the acknowledgements. Ah gee, thanks. Good to know I guess. I thought it was a funny thing to bother to mention.
    For the most part, though, other writers have been a wonderful support group. Writers are supportive and we all benefit.

  2. kathyrhodes says:

    Exactly! Most have been very supportive and it is beautiful when that happens. But there are those … who forgot where they came from.

  3. Rita Bourke says:

    Every writer is running on his/her own track. The biggest obstacle to my success is within me. I can either work to overcome it, or I can quit.
    To help another, to share something I’ve learned, can bring enormous benefits. Or it may bring nothing. Either way, I choose to share.
    It seems anathema that any writer would decide to “hoard” something they’ve learned in hopes they might keep someone else from reaching the finishing line. That simply is not the way it works.

  4. kathyrhodes says:

    I so agree. Beautifully put. And a good “swimmer” analogy. Going for a personal best at each meet and sharing tips along the way based on knowledge acquired or personal experience.

  5. GiGi Rose says:

    Sharing and collaboration is half the fun! Spend time with the folks who are open and supportive. Heck- I don’t want to do any of this alone!

  6. kathyrhodes says:

    Me either. And there’s nothing better than being with a room full of writers who are open and sharing and supportive. And thankfully, that’s what most of my life has been and I treasure every moment of it. And I treasure all my writing friends, near and far.

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