Before the blogging and the book reviews, I decided that this was it: if ever I was going to try to write, this was my chance to try and see what I could do. I wrote what I thought was a decent draft of a project; a friend read it and with the kindest, sweetest, and well, maybe worst advice ever, suggested I should start sending it to publishers. Naturally thrilled, I hurried off to the internet to research what to do with this little project.
As I quickly discovered (and as I’m sure most aspiring writers quickly discover), working in isolation and having friends read your stuff will maybe help your ego, but your writing… not so much. But what this very wonderful, but not so on-target advice did do, was get me on the internet and onto Twitter, which literally changed my world. I was so lucky to find a few of those really awesome mentoring writers right at the start – folks like Johanna Harness and Anne R. Allen, who are generous with advice, who blog about writing and who interact with their readers. Whether they meant to send it or not, the “message” I got from them was to get out – and stay out – of that vacuum of isolation. Once you start connecting, you see what else is out there. You see how you compare. You start to learn how the pieces fit together. Mostly, you learn how much more you have to learn. And that’s pretty healthy, as a writer and as a human being in general.
“Being a writer” in the sense of “writing a book” actually seems a lot farther off now than it did then, and maybe I won’t ever really do that, I don’t know. But along the way, I’m actually writing pretty often – and although it’s mostly book reviews, interviews and blog posts right now, connecting with other writers has helped me see that everyone is a work in progress. It’s helped me feel a lot more realistic, but also, in a strange way, braver, because I am not alone.
– Jennifer M. Kaufman