If you’ve ever run a marathon, like I did in my mid-twenties, and lived to talk about it, then most likely you’ve had this conversation:
You: I ran a marathon
Other person: Oh really, how many miles? Because I ran my town’s Turkey Trot and …
You: A marathon is 26.2 miles.
Other person: Oh …
You see, many non-serious runners—those who don’t subscribe to Runner’s World and purchase GU gel by the case—don’t know the specific mileage of each race (5k = 3.1 miles, a 10K = 6.2, etc.) and aren’t familiar with runner’s terminology. Why would they be?
Similarly, non-serious writers—those who haven’t been writing for years, participated in Open Mics, joined a book inc program, submitted their short stories for publication, etc.—cannot fully understand what it’s like to be an active writer committed to the craft of writing. You and this non-writer just don’t speak the same language. You’ll say Submittable and they’ll say “Submit a what?’ You’ll mention “daily word counts” and they’ll ask: “Why are you counting your words?”
Non-Writers Just Don’t Understand
I experienced this just the other day. I told my sister about the Memoir Incubator’s first “positivity pass,” that’s the term for the first round of initial feedback. In response, she told me about the one time she took a creative writing course in college and what it was like getting her piece workshopped (which was not a positive experience for her). She was trying to relate to me and my experience, but her one Turkey Trot writing experience cannot compare to the seven years I’ve had of my Memoir Marathon. She just doesn’t get it.
Why You Need a Writing Community
That’s why it’s so important for a writer to have a writing community. To have a group of like-minded people who will nod and express sympathy when you talk about how Hippocampus Magazine hasn’t responded to your submission, the one you submitted in January. (Hello, Hippocampus?) Or who will understand and relate to your joy when you describe the amazing feeling you got when your book inc readers spent an hour discussing your memoir.
So get a writing community and stick close. Lean on other writers when you need a sip of water and a stretch during your writing marathon.
About the Author
Elizabeth Jannuzzi, book inc’s program manager, is a mother and writer living in New Jersey. Her work has been featured in Pangyrus, Cagibi, and Entropy. She is currently enrolled in book inc’s Memoir Incubator where she is working on a memoir about recovery.