I was going to plead the Thumper Clause (If you don’t have something nice to say…) on this topic, but I finally thought of something.
This week, I’m headed to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. I’ve been every year except the first, and only didn’t go then because I didn’t know about it. I’ve been to many writer’s conferences, but I return to Saints and Sinners because 1) the focus is on the craft of writing, and 2) (and why eventually I’ll show why this fits this week’s theme) because I get to see many of my writer friends from the GLBT community.
Writing is something we do alone, or try to, since kids, dogs, partners, and cats are constant distractions. (Especially the cats) The internet is fantastic for connecting with other writers. ERWA (The Erotica Readers and Writers Association) was the place I workshopped my stories, met other erotica writers, and learned what to do once I had a story ready for submission. That’s just one of thousands of communities out there for writers. If you’ve ever had the uncomfortable experience of trying to find a local group of writers to meet with, only to have them shun you for writing erotica, you know how important it is to link up with people who understand and appreciated your genre. I live in one of the largest cities on earth and even I have a hard time finding enough erotica writers to make a regular meeting possible, so I can understand why a writer living in a small town would feel completely isolated. That’s why internet groups are so great. You can connect with people thousands of miles away, or even find out that there’s another clandestine eroticist twenty miles down the road. But while these internet groups are great, they’re not a substitute for meeting other writers face to face.
At Saints and Sinners, I get to spend four days surrounded by writers. When we aren’t in classes or panels, we’re talking about writing. The exchange of ideas and information is so much better than the internet because people are willing to say things in person that they would never commit to an email, and the feedback is instant. Gossip isn’t the only reason to go to a writer’s conference though. I can be a fan girl and meet writers I admire. Better yet, I get to tell them how much I enjoy their work. And oh, the classes! I still look back at the notes I took the first year at Saints and Sinners. There’s so much support and positive energy that I get exciting about writing. I remember sitting in the bathroom handwriting a story through the night because I didn’t want to wake my roommate. That feeling stays with me for months.
Most of us live with non-writers, and try as they might, they just don’t get it (bless their hearts). Creativity isn’t a bottomless well. Writers need to replenish, re-energize, and get a little motherly love and guidance. I just happen to get mine from muscle bears, genderqueers, and some of the most talented, giving, nurturing, generous writers out there.