You Are Not Alone (Tips from your Traveling Companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion)

“Lions and tigers and bears!  Oh my!”  No doubt about it, the craft of writing and the world of publishing can be a scary business.  But…

You are not alone.

I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind myself of this.  Daily?  Actually, some days it’s hourly.  Yes, my friends, we’ve chosen a career fraught with rejection, self-doubt, downswings, and loneliness.  But as I travel farther down this yellow brick path – sometimes skipping happily along, and sometimes dragging my feet with every step – I’m meeting all kinds of people.  Their paths may be different, but they intersect or even – at times – run identical to my own.

I am not alone.

I discovered this when I became more involved in my local chapter, setting up a plotting group in my home so that I could get to know people on a more personal level and making friends that I know will always be there for me when I stumble.  I rediscovered this when I finaled in the Golden Heart and found a whole group of sisters I never knew I had.

So what do you do to counteract those down periods when you’ve received a rejection, are immersed – nay, drowning – in self-doubt, or just feeling isolated?  Just as Dorothy had her traveling companions on her journey, we have friends, critique partners, and organizations to help us out on ours.  So…. What would Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion say about the challenges along our path?

Scarecrow, my brainy friend, scratches his head and looks at the odds.  “There are a lot of writers out there.  But you won’t succeed if you don’t continue to submit.  Persistence is the key.”

“Yes, but how long must I persist?” I ask.  (Okay, it was more of a whine, but still…)

“As long as it takes,” he says simply, that drawn-on smile never faltering.  “You never know when your manuscript will land on the RIGHT desk at the RIGHT time.  In the meantime, keep developing your craft, editing your work, and sending it out.  And listen to your writing friends when they say, ‘Don’t give up!’”

Tin Man, my sensitive friend, smiles at me softly with a sympathetic tilt of his head.  “You have a lot to give as a writer.  It’s a calling, otherwise you’d be able to set it down and walk away.  Besides, you’re writing the book of your heart, right?”

“Psshaw,” I say, jaded.  “That was four manuscripts ago.  Now I’m searching for the book of my dream editor’s heart.”

“But there’s no way of knowing what that will be,” Tin Man points out, taking my hand as we continue down the yellow brick path.  “Don’t lose the love for your craft.  If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why do it?  And,” he adds, “I suggest you join a writers group, where you can give back to others.  There’s joy in that, and the passion of others is addictive.”

Tin Man was right.  It was in joining my local chapter, and stepping forward to be their president when they needed one, that I found deeper and lasting friendships and found a common passion.  I rediscovered the “heart” of romance writing.  And I started to enjoy my craft again.

“Cowardly Lion, I know you feel my pain,” I say to the next friend along my path.  “Every time I lick that envelope to send away a submission, my heart quakes.  Can I stand the rejection this time?”

He straightens to his full, furry height, hands on his hips and stares me down.  “You know the answer to that.  If you are rejected, you will survive.  You always do.  Be brave.”  He leans down and grins.  “Chocolate helps.  And friends do, too.”

And finally, there’s Toto.  Can’t forget him.  I carry him with me everywhere in my little basket, my constant reminder of the quiet love and comfort that’s waiting for me at home.  Not everyone has a Toto to turn to when times are scary and confusing.  When the people who should love and support you the most step on your dreams, who do you turn to?  It’s my hope that you’ll find a group of like-minded people – writers, critique partners, Ruby Sisters – or that you start one of your own.  Trust me, there are others out there like you, sometimes lost in Kansas, twisting in the wind and just looking for home.

You are not alone.

If you find yourself feeling alone, join your local RWA group (or if you already belong, volunteer for a position to become more active and get to know your fellow chapter mates).  Or, offer to help judge a writing contest.  Cruise the internet for writer resources or loops you can join.  Or, just take your writing with you and get out of your lonely surroundings and into a bustling coffee shop or library, where you can see that other people exist.

One of the best things I ever did was say “yes” when my local chapter asked me to be their next president.  Was I worried about the additional workload and the fact that I’d never (ever!) served on a board before, let alone as president?  Heck, yeah.  At the same time, I’d volunteered to help my online chapter with their annual contest.  I didn’t know what I was in for there, either.  But saying “yes” opened so many doors for me.  I’ve met so many amazing writers, discovered several new resources, and discovered I am not alone.  (And, if you happen to believe in karma, I must say that my career has grown by leaps and bounds this year – my first request for a full from an agent led to signing with that agent, and was followed soon after by a Golden Heart nomination and win.  I’ve been very blessed, and can’t help but wonder if what I put out into the universe is coming back to me in some way.)

You are not alone.  We are on this twisty, winding path together, and the emotions at the peaks and dips are universal.  Am I scared?  Yes. Thrilled?  Yes! Confused?  Oh, yeah, sometimes. But I’m still going forward, one step at a time, and I hope you are, too.

Are you feeling alone on your path?  Who (or what) have you encountered along the way that helps push you to take that next step when you need a gentle shove?  Tell me about your journey, and your traveling companions.  Every commenter is entered in a drawing for a fabulous Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood mug OR a first chapter critique (25 pages max).  Winner chooses!

70 responses to “You Are Not Alone (Tips from your Traveling Companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion)”

  1. Wow — I’m honored to be the first to comment on your post! I think you’re right, and we all feel like we’re the only ones who are experiencing rejection, self-doubt … you name it … when really, we all have the same doubts and fears.

    I also think you’re right about getting more involved. I’ve been a member of RWA and NARWA for several years now, but it’s only been in the last year or so, since I volunteered to do the chapter newsletter, that I’m really focusing more on the writing career and taking chances (like entering the Golden Heart).

  2. Hi, Arlene, and thanks for visiting! I’m so glad you’re volunteering (the newsletters you produce for our chapter are FABULOUS!). And yes, life is all about taking chances (if you want to spice things up a bit!).

    Keep up the good work on the Golden Heart manuscript!

  3. Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

    I read your post and could hear the Cowardly Lion growling, “Let me at ’em. LET me at ’em! And, often, when I’m stuck, I sing “If I only had a brain…”

    The “aloneness” of writing can be so hard, but you’re right, we are not, in truth, alone. My RWA chapters are all too far away right now, and I miss the comeraderie. The loops really do help banish the isolation.

    Not everyone will choose the same traveling companions as they make their way down the road toward their dreams, but just knowing they are there makes all the difference.

    • Diana Layne says:

      I’m with you, Gwynlyn, on the “If I only had a brain” refrain this morning as I’m sitting here way too early trying to think of how to make this scene work when it’s difficult to even string two words together at the moment. Early morning is so not my best writing time…but lately it seems to be the only time I have.

      “If I only had a brain…” I wouldn’t be doing this. Ah, but yes, it’s a calling, the Tin Man told Anne Marie, must remember… 🙂

  4. Linda Burke says:

    What a great article. I’ve been lucky in having a sister who is also a writer so when one of us is down or needs to rant and rave, we have someone to talk to. Volunteering to help your chapter(s) is a great way to pay back to those who have helped you. I have volunteered to help two of my chapters, maybe three, at Nationals in 2010. I look forward to putting names and faces together there.

  5. Ah, that Cowardly Lion is very wise–chocolate is my little helper whenever a rejection pops into my inbox (like this morning, for instance–ugh!). I do sometimes indulge in self-pity, too, but then my crit partners remind me that so many wonderful writers have trudged this very rocky path. If they hadn’t stuck to it, they would never have been published.

  6. Diana Layne says:

    Yes, definitely what you put out into the universe comes back to you, Anne Marie. Remember the universe is very powerful, always good to have it on your side. And excellent points you’ve made about volunteering.

    Love the article, and I love what Tin Man says about this writing gig being a calling. It has to be or we’d never persist.

  7. Jeannie Lin says:

    Very charming post Anne Marie! I get more than a little help from my friends out there. Writing can be a lonely endeavor sometimes. I really saw a change in my writing when I started reaching out to other writers and getting involved in my local chapter. I’m lucky MORWA has a very active CORE critique group as well as very supportive members.

  8. Kim Law says:

    Great post, Anne Marie. It’s so easy to get down on your writing, I’d be lost without my writer friends to drag me back up.

    And like you, I’ve met and made so many friends by volunteering. I would definitely recommend getting as involved as your time will allow. You not only make those connections, but you also come away feeling good for helping. It’s that karma thing patting you on the back!

  9. Tamara Hogan says:

    The Tin Man is wise. Sometimes when the business of publishing frustrates me or gets me down, I force myself to remember my love of writing. Why do we do this? Because we love writing. Publishing is a crapshoot, but the writing? THAT I control.

    We all map our own route on this epic road trip, but we never have to travel alone.

    • Totally. I’m comforted by knowing that I control the two most important things in a writer’s career: my writing, and how I present myself to others.

      Cute post, Anne! I’m such a sucker for volunteering. I’m my chapter’s Hospitality Director, and was responsible for catering our big writing workshop last year. In the process, I got to know our savvy and kind guest speakers, Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t involved myself so deeply into the day.

  10. I floundered for a couple years as a solitary writer before seeking out a local RWA to cheer me and guide me, or just hold my hand.

  11. Elise Hayes says:

    One of the greatest “I’m not alone” moments was when I got to be with my critique partner, Michelle, as she wrote the words “The End” to the first draft of her first book. That’s usually such a solitary moment–you’re at home, writing your heart out, and you get to the end of that story you’ve been working on for *years.* You type in “The End” and do the Snoopy dance. . . but there’s usually no one right there to share it with you. We were lucky that time: we were on a writer’s retreat together and her goal had been to finish the draft. On the morning of our last half day–we were scheduled to leave in just a few hours–she got to write those happy, happy words. I even got a picture of it, and her, arms raised in victory.

  12. Ever since I left college (many, MANY years ago), I’ve been writing in a void. None of my close friends are writers, and even though I publish a column every week, I’ve never even been to my editor’s office. (The miracles of email). It has been such a joy to find a group of people who not only understand the daily struggles of writing, but have more to offer on the subject than,'”Well, then why do you DO it?” Thank you, Anne, for taking on the role of chapter president, and for making me feel so welcome. This might not have been a role you were seeking, but it is certainly one that becomes you.

  13. Addison Fox says:

    Anne Marie:

    What a wonderful post! So many truths in there, but I do have to agree with the general concensus of the posts so far. Volunteering in writers organization is such a wonderful way to find others who share the same dream, who support us, who encourage us down our own brick road, as we do for them.

    I got involved in my local RWA chapter at a volunteer level about 6 years ago and I truly believe it has helped me leaps and bounds wtih my writing. Here, suddenly, I had a group of friends who understand this part of me that is so personal, yet so public in a way. In the past year, that feeling has only expanded with my Ruby Sisters.

    I still remember when I made my New Year’s resolution in 2002 to join my local chapter and go to their January meeting…..and it took me until September to finally go to one. After I got there, it was like…what were you waiting for??? 🙂


  14. Shea Berkley says:

    Nice analogy, Anne Marie. I love that you used everyone, including Toto. So who would be the Wicked Witch on the West? Our doubt? Or those who doubt us? Humm. We must destroy the power of doubt! Throw a bucket of inky, well-honed prose on it and let it melt away! (sigh) If it were just that easy.

    So many of us don’t have the luxury of a family who believes in us, or just don’t understand our passion.

    Story time.

    Yesterday, my youngest daughter — 13 yrs. old and a voracious reader — came up to me and asked to read one of my YA stories. Gasp! She said she’d even stop reading Harry Potter to read mine — she’s never shown an interest before in what I write. Double gasp!! I gave her one of my manuscripts, and told her if she didn’t like it that was okay, but not to lie to me. She gave me an odd look and said, “Why would I lie? You can’t get better if people don’t tell you the truth.”

    My child has suddenly become an oracle? I’m thinking, oh Lord, what have I done? This child is brutally honest, with an emphasis on brutal. But then I thought, at least I’ll get an honest critique of how my story compares to what she’s reading.

    After about an hour, I heard her giggling. I peeked into her room and asked her what was so funny. She looked up and smiled and said, “I can’t believe my mom wrote this! It’s really good!” There was a light of surprise and respect in her eyes that I’d never seen before. She even skipped dinner to keep reading, which she never does.

    Later on this evening, we’re going to have a nice chat about my story. I’m actually excited to know what she thinks. In fact, I haven’t been this excited in a long time.

    • Jeannie Lin says:

      How beautiful! I bet she becomes a writer (or already is).

      • Shea Berkley says:

        She writes essays right now. It’s too cute to read what she writes. The innocence of her soul is just heartwarming.

    • Amy Talley says:

      That’s awesome. It’s such an ah-ha moment when our kids see us as people too.

      The day I got the call, I had carpool. When my oldest son slid into the front seat, I said, “Guess what I did today?” He looked over at me (and must have seen the joy) and said, “You’re getting your book published!” I nodded and we high-fived. Later, he looked at me and said, “So we’ll get to see your book in a store?” I nodded. “That’s the coolest thing ever!….Do we have to pay for it?”

      LOL. Gotta love my Toto!

      • Darn it! You, too, Amy, are bringing tears to my eyes. Why do stories about kids being honest and supportive hit me so hard in the gut? I don’t even HAVE kids!

        • Shea Berkley says:

          How sweet, Amy! I sometimes think it comes as a shock to our kids when they realize we’re more than just a mom. It’s like we suddenly become interesting, a new creation. It’ll be so cool to take you son to the bookstore and coo over your book and then buy it together. He’ll be so proud. It just makes me smile.

      • Ah, Amy that is so sweet. You made a crumpy sister smile this morning.

    • Shea, I have tears in my eyes, and I’m not a cryer. Stories like this make me want to have kids.

      • Shea Berkley says:

        Yeah, sometimes I wonder what possessed me to have so many, and then they do something like this and I feel all buttery.

    • Diana Layne says:

      Shea, is said brutally honest oracle child a Scorpio perhaps? My little brutally honest, older than the hills, Scorpio Expects me to write well, and when I fall short of her expectations, she does not hesitate to let me know. sigh.

      • Shea Berkley says:

        Um, I don’t actually know. She’s was born in mid May. Nearly killed me when I had her, but her natural disposition is sweet if not shockingly honest.

      • LOL — I’m a Scorpio, but I didn’t know I could blame my brutal honesty on my sign. That’s a relief! I was starting to think I should change…

    • Elise Hayes says:

      Wow, Shea–I can’t think of a higher compliment than to have your own YA giggling her way through your book. Write this moment down in a journal somewhere and come back to it whenever you need it. This is one of those moments you’ll never forget. Thanks for sharing it with us!

      • Shea Berkley says:

        I do need those little moments of affirmation. It’s funny how surprised I am at where they come from.

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      What a sweet story!

    • Anna G. says:

      How lovely is this? What a great thing for the both of you.

    • Shoshana Brown says:

      That’s so cool!

  15. Wonderful post! Loved how you worked everyone in there including Toto. Too cute.

    You are right. Writing is a lonely profession but it doesn’t have to be. When I decided to get serious about my writing, I decided to immerse myself in the writing community. I signed up for every romance writing loop I could find. I lurk on a lot of writing loops and boards. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from writers who are generous to share their experiences. Then a couple of years ago I stepped forward and volunteered in my RWA group. It has been very rewarding job and I’m glad to be able to help other writers.

    Romance writers are some of the most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. You guys all rock!

  16. Kellie says:

    There are times when I sit in front of my computer and feel very alone. Then I remember that there are so many others who are doing the exact same thing and probably feeling the exact same way. I do consider myself lucky because I remind myself that I’m not going down this path alone. My cousin and I are both in the same boats and are meandering down the same path in hopes that once we reach the end something good will come of it. We are actually in the process of entering our first contest. We figured it was time.

    I’m a member of RWA and 2 of it’s online special-interst chapters, but can’t seem to get myself to branch out into one of the local chapters where I would actually have to be with people. However, this past summer, thanks to the encoutagment of some online writer friends, I attended the RWA National conference in DC and had an amazing time. It was the first time I put myself out there like that and am so glad I did. Since then I’ve been pushing myself even harder because I did get requests for my MS. There have been struggles since then. The synopsis has been the worst step in this process so far and quite a huge hurdle that I’m working to get over.

    I’ve realized that if I set goals for myself that I may acutally get where I want to be and that’s to be published.

  17. Amy Talley says:

    Anne Marie – loved the post! And I’m a big believer in putting yourself out there. If you want support, you’ve got to give it.

    The first year I joined my chapter, I started volunteering – first librarian, then Member-at-large, then VP and now President. I was more than enthusiastic. I wanted my chapter to grow and prosper. And having a new, enthusiastic person did that. Our membership has grown by leaps and bounds and I feel like it was a small spark that got it going.

    Join a group, give to a group, and you will find yourself blessed in unexpected ways.

  18. I love your post. 🙂
    Sometimes I do feel alone on the path (people in real life aren’t interested in writing and wonder how I can stand to sit in place scratching out words if it’s not a paper I have to hand in for work/school/etc). One of the reasons why I love the internet – all the forums/writing groups and organizations…it’s great to connect with others with the same or similar writing goals and interests. I love how people can be in various stages of their writing life, but still be willing to bring something to the table/share informations and thoughts on writing (and sometimes not writing) related topics. It’s…comforting.

  19. Katrina says:

    Great thoughts! I love how you represented the different emotional componants of writing with each of the characters. The flying monkeys are the one who get me – they swoop in when you least expect them and set you down in a new place where you must start over trying to reach your goal.

    I love the people I’ve met online. They help me stay focused and even challenge me to do more than I think possible (Yes, I’m talking to you Rosalind Stone). The romance community is the best there is.

  20. Okay, kids are off to school (well, one, anyway. The other is home due to fever due to flu shot reaction – sigh)… You all have been busy this morning posting!

    @ Gwynlyn – LOL Love the “If I only had a brain…” reference. I certainly feel like that some days!

    @ Linda – How wonderful that your sister is in the same business and understands the angst of writers!! My sister is my first reader on my manuscripts, and she’s wonderful. She once told me she thought I was better than Nora Roberts. I don’t think I’ll ever receive a better compliment. (grin)

    @ Vanessa – sorry to hear about the rejection! That stinks. My day could be going perfectly fine and one of those comes along and – wham! Like some flying monkey just attacked or something. But chocolate and those wise critique partners are fabulous for fending off the monkeys. 🙂

  21. @ Diana – Yes, I’ve got to believe it’s a calling. There have been many days I’ve wondered why the heck I keep beating my head against the wall (or the computer). But I just can’t stop. I could call it an addiction, but “calling” is a much nicer word!

    @ Tamara & Jamie – Good point! Writing IS the only part of this business you can control. (That, and as Jamie said, the way you portray yourself.) That’s what makes me sit down at the computer on a regular basis – the reminder that even though I’ve got submissions out there, there’s no telling if they’ll lead anywhere. The only thing I can do while waiting for agent/editor responses is keep on writing (and putting myself out there).

    @ Kelly – me, too! I joined RWA, but didn’t join a local chapter for a couple years. Wasn’t sure I was up to the travel involved, plus I had little kids at home. When I was ready, though, it was so nice to find a group of like-minded people. We’ve become like a little family (we’re a small chapter). I’m, by nature, a shy and quiet person and didn’t want to “put myself out there.” I’m glad I did, though.

  22. @ Elise – my eyes are tearing up reading that – how wonderful to have that kind of support in this business! And it made me think about the lunches and gatherings my writer friends and I have had over the past couple years to celebrate successes, or just to commiserate when we’ve had tough times. How wonderful.

    @ Kelly – Hi!!! I’m so glad you joined our chapter. You’ve got so much to offer our plot group and our meetings, and I’m glad we found each other. 🙂

    Which reminds me of another point – I think a lot of the difficulty I had with a writing career is that if our words don’t get “out there” (i.e., published), we often don’t feel “heard” (okay, yes, I was a counselor in a previous life! LOL) or that we’ve made a mark on the world and that leads to more loneliness and frustration. But joining a group where you can share and help others can alleviate that frustration and show how much you have to offer others.

  23. Great blog, Ann Marie! Not just inspirational, but very entertaining too. I lean on scarecrow more than the rest.

  24. @ Addison – as I replied to someone earlier, it took me a couple years to go from joining RWA to joining a local chapter. But then, I’m a firm believer that everything happens in its own good time. (That may be a coping mechanism to keep me sane in this business, but hey, it works!) It sounds like you’re very active in your chapter and I’m sure they appreciate it!!

    @ Shea – hmmm… good point. The Wicked Witch of the West (and the East – we dropped a house on her, so maybe she represents the stumbling blocks that originally got in our way before we actually told ourselves we are going to be writers, darn it!) I think the other Witch, as you said, must be the self-doubt that plagues us from time to time. I’d like to think you can throw a bucket of “happy thoughts” or self-affirmations on her and she’d be gone forever, but the human mind doesn’t seem to work that way. Self-doubt is a part of life, but we can develop an arsenal against it by reminding ourselves how far we’ve come, how great we can be, etc. Interesting food for thought, Shea.

    And to those who responded to Shea – I’ve got tears in my eyes, too! Happy tears, though – such great kids!! My oldest is 6 1/2 (can’t forget the 1/2!) and when she asks what I’m doing, I say “writing a book.” The other day, she presented me with a mound of paper she’d stapled together – to write my book on, she explained. So precious!

    Keep us posted on what your daughter says, Shea. Sounds like she really enjoyed it! (And above Harry Potter, at that! High praise, indeed.)

  25. Dara says:

    There are times I feel alone, but then I remember the wonderful critique groups I’m part of and those feelings don’t stay long.

    I used to be one of those writers that never let anyone read anything I wrote, simply because I was too scared and not confident. I took a leap one day and entered a short story into a website contest and actually placed! It was some sort of validation that maybe I wasn’t as bad as I was making myself believe.

    From there I eventually joined a critique group, thanks to meeting some wonderful folks at a local NaNoWriMo kickoff party. I think I’ve grown so much being part of this group and it’s nice to know that there are others who are traveling the same path as I am.

    I recently joined and online critique group too and I’m already thankful for it. It is a little daunting at first to put yourself out there, but in the end I’m always glad I do 🙂

  26. @ Jennifer – I’m so glad to hear people like you are volunteering. It really does make our craft/career/life that much richer. Glad to have you here!

    @ Kellie – good luck with the contest! I hope you and your cousin find a way to celebrate the milestone of entering a contest. It’s been several years since my first, but I remember how stressful it was to decide my work was ready to put out there. The feedback I received was well worth the entry fee, though! Congrats on attending Nationals, and super congrats on the requests!! That’s fabulous. (And there’s a reason they call it “the dreaded synopsis” – LOL – It must be like a rite of passage for writers or something!) Best of luck!

    @ Amy – sounds like you’ve been a wonderful “spark” for your chapter, and your spark shines through on the RSS loop. That spark can be contagious, too, in such a wonderful way. Our chapter was in danger of closing its doors, and needed a new direction (at least that’s how it was presented to me). I’m proud that I’m part of that new direction, but am so glad there were others who stepped forward to help me (okay, there may have been a little arm-twisting involved, but we make a fabulous group now!). Sparks can become a fiery passion when nurtured!

  27. June Love says:

    Anne Marie – What would we do without our Oz friends to help us down the brick road? I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have without my chaptermates, which is one of the reasons I became active in my chapter. How can you not give back to a group of people who have given so much to you?
    Alone? Not as long as you have the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Toto.
    Awesome post!

  28. Great article, Anne Marie!

    Sometimes I do feel alone since my schedule doesn’t allow to meet with local writing groups too often, but the Internet is a wonderful thing. I’ve found lots of writing buddies by belonging to groups online. Also helping out with contests as a coordinator gives me opportunities to communicate with lots of people and makes attending conferences more exciting too. It’s so fun to meet a cyber buddy in person. So although the writer’s journey can be lonely at times, there are great moments along the way. It’s worth the trip.

  29. @ Rosalind & Katrina – Darn flying monkeys! LOL Yes, connection is wonderful, and I think all people NEED it – though we all need it at various levels at various times in our lives. And the thought that everyone has something to offer, no matter what stage they are at, is so true. I’m a firm believer in the thought that everyone has something to teach me. Finding out what that something is is the fun part. 🙂

    @ Laurie – thanks! You know, I was thinking about that – that some of us rely on certain “friends” such as Scarecrow more than others. I think, for me, it depends on where I am at the time. Last year, when things in my life were relatively stable, I leaned more on Scarecrow, too. This year, I think I’m talking with Tin Man a little more. With a few stumbling blocks thrown in my way these past few months, I’m needing the frequent reminder that this is a “calling” and that I won’t be able to give it up, so stop whining! LOL Next year, who knows what life will bring? I may need to turn to Cowardly Lion for some words of courage.

    @ Dara – ah, sweet validation! The payoff for risking rejection and criticism. But it’s so worth it! As *they* say, “No pain, no gain.”

  30. @ June – So true!! 🙂

    @ Kelly Ann – Hi! What the heck did people do before the Internet, I wonder?!

    And you bring up an excellent point. Knowing people ahead of time, whether online through a loop, coordinating a contest, etc. – or in person through a local chapter, really makes attending conferences so much more fun. I remember the first one I attended, I hadn’t joined any online groups or local chapters yet and was totally alone. Another *newbie* and I paired up and had a wonderful time. (Strength in numbers!) Now, I look forward to conferences so I can see friends in person that I’ve met online or don’t get to see very often. It adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

  31. Excellent bit of writing there, my freind with a ton of advice to boot!! As one of the lucky one to be included in the circle of your influence I can say that you are right on all accounts and I count myself lucky to have you at my side on the yellow brick road!!

  32. Jordan says:

    It’s always nice to be reminded of this, since writing is such a solitary pursuit! I’ve had a few opportunities to hang out with other writers, and it’s amazing how invigorating it is to be around people who don’t just root for you, but really “get it.”

    • Jordan says:

      (Ack! My finger slipped as I was typing my URL. If I forgot one altogether, I’d be okay with that, but I don’t want to look like an idiot.)

      (Too late. This is the right one. 😉 )

  33. Elisa Beatty says:

    Great post! I was needing a little inspiration… and it’s also really nice to hear that volunteering for your chapter actually amped up your career rather than drained it…. It’s easy to forget how much you tend to get back when you give.

  34. Tina Joyce says:

    Anne Marie, speaking as someone who has lived thousands of miles from the nearest romance writer for a period of time, it was a joy to finally discover RWA and the host of online chapter/support groups that are available. So yes, writing can be a lonely task, literally, but it’s so nice to know there are other people out there who are just like me.

    Thanks for the inspiring post.

  35. This is too cute, Anne Marie!!!

    Great post! And insipiration. It is hard to find people who “get it” when you live in the boondocks. I live for my RWA chapter meetings every month even though they are an 8-hour round trip. Love them!


    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Wow. THAT’S dedication.

    • Gwynlyn MacKenzie says:

      Mine is a little over 5 hours round trip, and I just can’t do it. Right now, because I dare not leave dh unattended lest he do something stupid and jeopardize his recovery, and usually because we’re down to a single vehicle and he doesn’t get home until after 6 (our meetings start at 7:30 on a week night.) Even so, you make me feel like the slacker of all slackers!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      And I love that you think we’re that great to drive all that way to see us. The meetings wouldn’t be as fun without you, Darynda. Muahhh!

  36. @ Jacqui – Hi! Glad to have met you along the journey, too, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend in the road for each of us. 🙂

    @ Jordan – how true. When we have our plot groups every other month, we’re all rejuvenated and eager to get back to our WIPs – of course, some days we need a little mental recovery time before we can dive back into it after our brains have been picked by everyone! It’s all a lot of fun, though, and we learn so much from each other.

    @ Elisa – this volunteering thing is certainly a balancing act. I’ve had to cut back a little this year with everything going on in my life, but I still keep in touch with various loops and try to do what I can. Being president does take a lot of time (more than I’d even anticipated), but I’m enjoying it while I’m in office. It’s been worth it. I hope, when my life smoothes out, to get back into judging contests more. I really enjoy that.

    @ Tina – as I mentioned earlier to someone else, what the heck did we do before the Internet?! They say technology is making people less in tune with each other, but think of all the connections that are made, across thousands of miles, now that we have such a tool. Thanks for stopping by!

    @ Darynda – Wow! Eight hours round trip?! Every month?! That must be some wonderful group. While I’m not in the boondocks, it is a three-hour round trip for me, but we only meet every other month to cut down on travel issues. That’s why I started the plot group in my home on the “off” months – so that people who live in my area have more chances to attend a writers’ function. Of course, there are several who make the trek from other towns, too. This evens out the traveling burden on our members.

  37. Shoshana Brown says:

    Great post, Anne Marie. I’m so glad we live in the internet age, because with my schedule, I couldn’t make many meetings of a land chapter. Online RWA chapters and other writing email loops help keep me from feeling like I’m all alone out there. 🙂

  38. Well, I think my time is just about up for today. I had a wonderful time visiting with all of you. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone! I wish you all the best and hope I see you again along this yellow brick road…

  39. Late chiming in, Anne Marie, but so enjoyed your post. And things do come back at you. Keep on skipping down that road:)

  40. Ah, Ann Marie, I’m one of Queens of volunteering in my chapter. I’ve held every position. I actually had to step down this spring because of mom’s health problems. Can’t be reiging VP when you can’t make the meetings. It near killed me. My hands are bruised from sitting on them this year.

    You are so right, putting yourself out there networking is a huge help in fighting off the lonliness. Great post!


  41. I completely agree with you Ann. I’m the VP of my chapter and my board is always bragging about how much fun we have at the board meetings. Well, wouldn’t you know it but at last weeks board meeting 4 non-board members showed up! And we had a blast! This is where those friends along the road show-up. I wouldn’t travel this road without them 🙂


  42. […] You Are Not Alone (Tips from your Traveling Companions: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion) by Anne Marie Becker Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Dontcha break my heart (my achy Golden Heart)RWA DC Photo Gallery   Leave a Comment […]

  43. […] on the Ruby blog, and probably my first blog post ever—which I originally posted waaaaay back on October 6, 2009. That was before I was published, when I was still shopping my Golden Heart manuscript (which was […]


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