I sat in on a young writers’ workshop in Brooklyn a few months back. In the midst of our chatter about the horrors of the publishing industry, the joys of writing, and the inadvisability of living on a steady diet of ramen noodles, one of the students asked how come all the writers seem to know each other and are always thanking each other in the acks of their books. The question was sparked by a student telling us his favourite writer is Jonathan Lethem and my mentioning that I once house sat for Lethem. (Yeah, yeah, I know, shocking name dropping.1)
Sarah Mlynowski answered that writing is a lonely business and that as soon as she moved to New York City she made it her business to meet other writers because she didn’t know any. I met her that very day at the workshop and we’ve since corresponded some more. Cause that’s one of the ways writers know each other—they meet at workshops.
One of the first writers I met and became close friends with was Yvette Christianse«. We were both postgraduate students in the English department at Sydney University and shared an office. Neither of us had published books at the time, now we both have. I also met Mandy Sayer that way. Later at my first science fiction convention I was introduced to so many writers I thought my head was going to explode. Some of them, like Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, have become dear friends.
I met Scott Westerfeld at the Dixon Place Science Fiction reading series. Now we’re married.
So how do all us writers know each other? From hanging out in places other writers are likely to be: conventions, conferences, book festivals, university English departments, writers’ workshops.
Which means that those teenagers in that Brooklyn workshop were also writers meeting writers: each other, as well as their teachers and all the folks, like me and Sarah, who come to sit in on their workshop. When I first started meeting other writers (like Yvette and Ellen and Delia and Scott) I was an unpublished aspiring writer.
Now, there’s the added avenue of the intramanet making it easier and easier to meet other writers. All these blogs and chatrooms and critique groups and NanNoWriMo etc.
Not very mysterious at all, eh? It is, however, wonderful. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about all the amazing and talented writers I know. Samuel R. Delany! Karen Joy Fowler! Angelica Gorodischer! Margo Lanagan! Very cool indeed.
- I am now house sitting for Melina Marchetta. Nyer nyer! [↩]