Community

Q: What is more fun than laundry and packing?

A: Pretty much everything, but I’m plumping down on the side of blogging.

Gabrielle says, “Isn’t it amazing to talk (and debate) with other writers?”

It sure is! I’m still buzzing from the high of Reading Matters and then last night it continued as I got to spend time with some of the top writers in the universe. Including—wait for it—Jaclyn Moriarty! Me and Randa Abdel-Fattah (who wrote the gorgeous and wry Does My Head Look Big in This?) were introduced to her at the same time and in unison we burst out with, “I love your books!” And proceeded to fangirl her. I’m such a dag sometimes. At least I wasn’t alone in my worship! Talking with both Jaclyn and Randa was one of the many highlights of this trip home.

Writing is a lonely profession. You spend oodles of time on your own: thinking, pacing, procrastinating, grumbling, and (eventually) getting words on paper. You get very little feedback on those words until than a year after you’ve finished deleting and pushing them around. Sometimes it feels like the only people you talk to are your agent and your editor and your cat. No matter how lovely they all are it’s not enough.

The occasions when you get to hang out with other writers are gold. You get to talk shop, hear about other writers’ processes, their relationships with their agents and editors and cats, hear gossip about writers you haven’t met. You get the warm and wonderful feeling of not being isolated. There are people who know exactly what it’s like to live and work the way you do.

I don’t know how I would have finished Magic’s Child—the third book in my trilogy—if it hadn’t been for Scott and Libba Bray sharing their war stories as they battled the third books in their trilogies. Not being alone makes the world a more manageable place.

And that’s one of the points David Levithan was making when he called for more books to be published in Australia by and about a greater range of people. If you’re a gay or lesbian kid there’s not a lot on the bookshelves here that touches on your experiences and what there is comes from overseas like David’s Boy Meets Boy. I still remember the shock of recognition the first time I ever read a book that was set in an area of Sydney that I knew: Patricia Wrightson’s I Own the Racecourse. Finding people like you in books is even more intense and way more necessary. Being alone can be wonderful, but being isolated not so much.

Most of us need to know we have peers.

The past few days has been chockfull of meeting people like me: Writers (like Jacqueline Wilson), Australian writers (like Simmone Howell), Australian writers who live in more than one place (like Jaclyn Moriarty). I am overwhelmed with the sense of having not one, but many communities. It’s a glorious feeling.

6 comments

  1. Elmo on #

    I am on a roll. Two ‘first comments’ in a row.
    Go me.
    Is that (one of the reasons) why you set up your blog? So you can communicate with the outside world duing your writing confinement?

  2. Rebecca on #

    wow, yeah. with all the talk around about people who are getting ready to go to the big upcoming conferences, i’ve been thinking wistfully of the possibility of going myself (which doesn’t currently exist for about a million reasons). i’m not completely isolated, exactly, but a lot of my contact with fellow writers (especially during the summer, when i’m away from school) comes via the internet. which is great, but not like going to a writers’ meeting, or conference, or whatever. it’s also a very sad truth that most college students aren’t interested in ya lit. :p nor are people older than that. so there is something, but not a whole lot of people who enjoy the same thing i do. and that’s probably true a lot, no matter what you read or write about.

    oh! jaclyn moriarty wrote the year of secret assignments! wow. that is a book i tried to read years ago, but i was unable to. i remember sitting in the bookstore, taking up the main row in the ya section for ages reading it and then being so annoyed that i had to put it down and leave without getting it. it is so weird how every now and then, someone will mention a book on a blog, and i’ll go look for it and realize that i’d heard of it already. like realizing that someone you just met was best friends with your best friend back in elementary school or something. 😛

  3. The Bibliophile on #

    I heard a news piece on my local NPR station about a year ago describing a communal space for writers for exactly the reasons you describe: writing can be hard and lonely and isolating. I think it’s really neat that you and Scott and John and Libba and Maureen, etc. have set up your own little community, and that you’ve been finding others!

  4. Gabrielle on #

    You quoted me! I feel so special haha.

    I’m a teenager, but I’ve been wanting to be an *official* writer since fifth grade. And you know, discovering all these writer blogs has made me want to be one even more. So I guess that’s a good example that knowing other people who share your passion does help. I also found that reading blogs and stuff gets me more inspired to write. Which is very good. http://www.misssnark.com is amazing. Too bad she just retired.

    I’m trying to convince my Mom to go to Washington, DC for ALA. It would be so awesome if it works! It would be the first conference I’d go (although from the site, I’m an under-16-years-old *child*. So I’m not even sure I’d be allowed to do more than the exhibits. Sigh.

  5. mckayla on #

    thats kewl and why not throw out the old dirty clothes and go shopping and buy more??? wouldnt that be funner??? i know i always have fun when i do cause im the one who has to wash the clothes here for my dad my son and i and anyways im only 15 so shoppings what i do best always gotta look good lol…and packing…thats just hell i say pack like two outfits cause your gonna end up needin more clothes when you get there

  6. Jack Heath on #

    Hi Justine!

    It was great to meet you at Reading Matters. You’re right – hanging out with other writers is by far the most fun part of this job.

    Keep in touch!

    -Jack 🙂

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