When I was in high school, I was in a club called Rainbows, and one of the things we impressed upon members is that you only get out of Rainbows what you put in. I tried to live that motto in most of my life, yet it wasn't until the past year that I applied it to my writing.
I'm so glad I came to my senses.
My journey started with the sale of Infinite Space, Infinite God (ISIG). Until then, my interaction with other writers had been occasional e-mails on the Catholic Writers Online and Christian Fiction Yahoo groups. I'd mostly gone to the groups for what I could get out of them, and I did get a couple of writing contracts and some market leads as well as contributors to ISIG.
My publisher, Lida at Twilight Times Books, invited TTB authors to join the MuseOnline Writers Conference by hosting a workshop. At this point, I was thinking mostly in terms of "what's in it for me?" In this case, doing a workshop on Faith in Fiction would get some free publicity for ISIG. Plus, I could attend the other workshops, meet authors and editors, and learn more about marketing my book.
Something happened at that workshop that transcended marketing, however.
I discovered a whole world of writers, some with less experience than me, but many with more. Those with more so freely shared what they knew and those with less so gratefully drank it in that I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to share, too! Before the conference was over, I had done an impromptu workshop and committed to creating a newsletter on writing religion in fiction.
Afterward, I got into a website-building workshop--hosted by the conference organizer Lea Schizas--and had such fun with it, I started encouraging all authors to build one. I took a virtual book tour and set up a blog to tour others. I joined some writers' chats, and when Jo Linsdell started a chat on her website, I felt inspired to start my own. As my knowledge and enthusiasm grew, I got more involved in my Yahoo groups and found myself accepting invitations to others.
Six months later, I am the President of the Catholic Writers' Guild, publisher of Faith-Filled Fiction, owner of several active websites and blogs, member of three blog rolls, and have signed up to do three workshops at the MuseOnline Conference in October. I wake up every morning looking forward to getting on my computer, catching up on e-mail, taking care of Yahoo business, growing my MySpace and ShoutLife friends lists, and IM-ing with whichever friend is on-line.
And, true to the motto I learned as a teen, I've gotten so much back: new opportunities, new marketing skills, and even new characters and novel ideas. I've helped others advertise their books or activities and had promoted ISIG in return. Best or all, I've got new friendships: people I can depend on to provide thorough and useful critiques, to commiserate with over rejections, to celebrate acceptances, to plan for the next great project, and simply to enjoy each others' company.
We often think that writing is a solitary activity, but this year, I've discovered just how important a good group of author friends can be. It's not just about sharing the story.
It's about sharing yourself.