June 13, 2012 by Susie Finkbeiner
A struggling playwright, I was constantly in collaboration with directors, actors, production staff. A small group of Church-people, they loved me, supported me, encouraged me. A few times, telling me when I’d gone a little too far in pushing an envelope here or there. They cheered and gave hugs and high-fives when I had my first publishing success.
The church hired a new minister. He wasn’t supportive of the drama program. I got a job. Had a few more babies.
Life happened and my writing paused.
I started writing a secret novel. Ducked out of work early to write at a local coffee house. Terrified that someone would find out what I was doing.
I don’t know.
The writing was lonely. I didn’t know what I was doing. Had no mentors or cheerleaders. All my doing, the hermit-like-nature of my writing. I teetered on the edge of depression and anxiety (not to mention my work and church life “turned”).
What I needed was community.
I “came out”, telling my family and friends that I had a novel in the works. Met writer friends (the lovely Amelia Rhodes was my first reader). Started a critique group (I promise, these groups make you a better writer). Found a group of mentors at Novel Matters. Connected to other writers at The Festival of Faith and Writing and The Breathe Conference (you should come to Breathe…you really should).
My writing family has calmed me when I’ve freaked out over an unkind word. Told me to “keep at it” when I got rejection letters. Screamed when I got “THE” email.
Writers need people. Not just people. But relationships.
But not only writers. Every person needs that bolstering, cheering, loving, convicting circle of people. We are not meant to be alone. Relationships make us who we are. Without them, we flounder. Without them, we stagnate, unable to truly grow.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Tell me, who encourages you? Who prods you to look into the dreams you have and convinces you that they are worth trying? Who are your cheerleaders?