The Problem With Writing (Alone)

As I’m sure any of you who read this post already know, I recently won an award for Late Lights. This, by all accounts, should have boosted my confidence. I’m an award winning author! I’m good at this! Right? Well…

For me, the award has carried more personal baggage than prize. And for that matter, every positive review I’ve gotten has done the same (don’t get me wrong, reading the two bad reviews were among the worst moments of my life (possible hyperbole)). Rather than feeling confident about my future, instead I’m weighted down with thoughts about seemingly inevitable downfall. Is this the high point of my career? Will any of my work ever be well received again? What if I can’t find a home for my follow up (a distinct possibility)?

And the fact that I sit here in my living room, by myself, only makes it worse. My mind becomes an echo chamber of self-doubt. Since graduating from my MFA program I’ve been without a writing community. I’ve been alone, with only my non-writer friends to buoy me. And despite their sincerity, their enthusiasm for my work just doesn’t carry the same weight as from a fellow writer.

But recently, something has changed. My old MFA buddy, Elissa Washuta (My Body is a Book of Rules, forthcoming, and I’m pumped as hell about it) invited me to a closed facebook group. The group includes writers of every stripe — almost all of whom, it seems, is somewhere on the spectrum between moderately and extremely successful. Usually hearing about other people’s successes sparks in me an ugly kind of resentment, but in this case, everyone is so nice. People are helping each other. People are encouraging each other. And while my self-doubt hasn’t ebbed an inch, this somewhat abstract camaraderie has fueled a kind of motivation to get my projects completed that I haven’t felt in a while.

I’ve been desperately wanting a writing community of my own for the past six years. I finally have one — sort of.

I’ll take it.

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