Despite being my greatest passion, sometimes I’m amazed by the way writing can be one of the loneliest things in the world.
Writing has always been this wild, exhausting, emotional thing that I love with every ounce of my soul. But sometimes it can feel like I’m writing into the void. It can feel really, really lonely. As an unagented writer it’s something I’ve struggled with for a while—albeit, quietly, because I tend to be the kind of person that internalizes negative feelings—because it used to feel like without an industry professional as some kind of external validation, there was no real way to know if I was wasting my time. On the bad days, I’d fall into the thought spiral of: What if my writing was garbage? What if it really was all for nothing? If I was actually a good writer, I’d have an agent by now, right?
I have a lot of things to be thankful for, but right now as I sit in clothes that reek of a coffee shop, bleary-eyed from six hours of sleep with a voice that sounds like a frog from too much talking, I can’t stop thinking about how lucky I am to have finally found writer friends.
I’ve wanted to find my writer group. I remember watching authors and writers I loved that seemed to have their own group filled with inside jokes and thinking that’s all I want! A group that understands!
Warning: this post is about to get insanely sappy.
Disclaimer: Forming online friendships can be…tricky, because people are not always what they seem. I’ve been burned before. I remember feeling so stung when the writers I thought I could count would reply to my excited texts about receiving full requests from dream agents or selling another short story would turn the conversation back to them or use it as an opportunity to disparage my excitement. I remember thinking I really care about you, but right now, it feels like you don’t care about me. The wonderful—and terrible—thing about online friendships is they form fast. There is absolutely no shame in guarding yourself, your work, and creating boundaries is something feels off about a friendship, online or in real life.
That being said, online friendships have also been one of my greatest sources of community and joy. (*waves to book twitter*)
This year, for the first time in my life, I discovered what it meant to find writer friends I’d go to bat for in a heartbeat. Friends I trust, whose successes I’m pretty sure I care about more than my own. Two of those writer friends are my forever saltmates (and future NYT bestselling authors, I’m calling it NOW) Katie Zhao and Amélie Zhao. I’ve been so lucky to have found people I can excitedly scream with (and about, to my coworkers, who have No Idea why I won’t shut up about my internet friends, bless their hearts.) I LOVE that I get to watch my insanely talented friends achieve accomplishments that are insanely well deserved because I’ve watched them work their asses off.
Here’s the thing: having writer friends not only make the process less lonely, but they make it better. You need people you totally, 100 percent trust to not only encourage you, but to tell you the hard truths, to point out what isn’t working. For all of our inside jokes and screaming and sassiness and screaming and did I mention, screaming? (Seriously, I think my caps button sobs every time I get ready to text them) my work has improved exponentially because I’ve found writers I click with that I trust to push me. I’ve noticed that when I read the work of people I care about, I’m a better CP, because it’s not just the story I’m invested in—it’s the person behind it.
They also add the joy back into writing. On the days I want to give up, or the days I’m not sure if something is working, having writer friends I can brainstorm and sprint with makes the process so much more enjoyable. It helps act as a reminder as to why I fell in love with writing in the story place—because I’m a storyteller, and sharing those stories with has always been my greatest source of joy. Sometimes when I’m panicking over whether I’ll find an agent or sell another short story, I forget that joy. And my writer friends remind me of it.
Of course, those negative thought spiral-y days still come up, especially depending on where I am in my process cough queryingishell cough but my friends like Katie and Amélie make it bearable, because it’s not just about my writing anymore. And sure, those lonely moments are there, those insecurities are still there but now they don’t feel as dire. Because it’s like, even if this doesn’t work out for me, these stories I adore written by people I love are going to change the world and I get the privilege of watching that happen.
And then, as icing on the cake, yesterday I got to meet them. (lksjdlkasjdklasjdlkajsdj!!!!!)
I think most people that meet online friends for the first time will have a tiny bit of nerves, but those nerves melted away almost immediately upon meeting these two amazing (and slightly bananas) writers that I adore. It was like puzzle pieces clicking into pace. Twenty minutes into brunch I was furiously texting my boyfriend in all caps as my little introvert heart was just crying out with joy while I screamed, THEY’RE GREAT. THEY’RE REAL!! OMG. THEY’RE GREAT. SASKLDJALKSJDLKAS.
Twenty minutes turned into two hours which turned into seven hours in a coffee shop (oops), and I found myself turning into a non-stop chatterbox with Leslie Knope levels of enthusiasm because it felt like I’d known these girls for years. And then I blinked, and it was 11am the next morning, and Amélie was already catching her flight back to New York.
And now I’m sitting here blearily drinking iced tea to keep myself awake and just thinking about how damn lucky I am to have the friends I’ve found. Friends I believe in 100 percent. Friends I am so, so insanely proud of.
I know not everyone reading this post has read Katie or Amélie’s writing, but look out. Their books are coming for you, and you won’t be the same once they’re done shattering you. Their books are going to smash records and steal reader hearts all over our big, messy world.
This is probably the most personal—and the sappiest—blog post I’ve ever written, and I’m definitely blaming being half-delirious from lack of sleep. But I can’t help it.
I’m just so lucky.
PS: Because I am the ultimate Hype Man and forever a shameless stan for my friends, if you haven’t already followed Katie’s blog and Amélie’s blog, you absolutely should. And if you haven’t added Amélie’s debut BLOOD HEIR on goodreads I’m going be screaming about it until 2019, so you may as well add it now.