When you think Virginia Woolf, you may tend to think of the resigned suicide portrayed in The Hours, but she was an innovative writer with a good sense of humour and an ambition to write the kind of stories that fired her imagination.
While troubled and struggling for much of her life, Woolf survived longer than she might have done because she had a community of other writers and creators who gave her inspiration and support. Without that safety net, Woolf probably would have given in to despair even sooner. She was able to complete a number of fascinating and ground-breaking works before she took that final walk to the river.
Woolf wrote, “Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.”
Woolf reminds me of the importance of community for writers and for readers. Our work is solitary. It requires a lot of hours simply putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. While you can do that anywhere—in your office or out in a coffee shop—the process is one that requires spending much of your day inside your own head where the movies unfurl and you try to capture every nuance (or where you kick the projector to get it running again).
That’s why you need that community—people who understand that need for solitude, the difficulty of the process and the hunger to fill your head. One of the best things about working for small presses like Fox Spirit and Tirgearr is that they bring together a whole new community of writers. There’s a broad range here, from old hands who’ve been writing for years, to people new to the genre and even folks who are publishing for the first time (yay you!).
Largely, the other writers here have been supportive, cheerleading and generous with their knowledge and experience. Our Lady Smut tribe, too. Just look at the blog entries here, where folks offer advice, tips and insight into the writing process and share what turns them on. We find new friends here, on Facebook, on Twitter and the ripples widen (hello, SpeakEasy!)
In other situations, I have seen writers overwhelmed by envy and so competitive as to grudge the least bit of success to others. There’s none of that here. We all know that the success of the genre is a tide that raises all boats. We spread the word not just to promote our own projects, but all our friends here, too. We’re an eclectic bunch and we have publishers who celebrate it. How great is that?
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|Rare recording of Virginia Woolf, 1937, speaking about the craftsmanship of words on BBC Radio|