Nyad had three things to tell the crowd assembled as she achieved her lifelong dream. “One is we should never ever give up. Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
As writers, we have long heeded her first two directives. If you’re still writing in hopes of making that first sale you haven’t given up. And how many of you started later in life, have kept at it, believing that you’re never too old to chase your dreams?
But it is Nyad’s third comment, that swimming looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team, that hit me as critical to a writer’s dream of publication.
Writers are solitary people. We enjoy thinking up stories in our head, creating characters whose thoughts and voices become real to us. Setting becomes a character in and of itself. Characters experience conflict, which we put before them, and use their skills, which we gave to them, to resolve the conflict. We come to know them intimately, feeling their experiences, living their thoughts.
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty difficult to do in a crowd! It’s when we step away from the story that the “team” concept unfolds. We need others to support us in our venture—family, close friends, people who believe in us. We need professional readers and critique partners to brainstorm with, to help us work through the myriad of details that are in our head but don’t quite make it to the page, are unclear, or flat out take away from the story. Then we need our cheerleaders, those who love our story and keep us buoyed as we traverse the rocky ocean of sending out inquiries, rejection, false hopes. And, today, we need those friends who support us in our desire to self-publish, to get our story out to readers regardless.
So who is on your team? Who are the people who keep you pumped, writing long into the night or getting up at the crack of dawn to bring your story to life?