Are you lonely? If you’re a writer, chances are you answered yes. Writing is a solitary occupation. It demands long hours of concentrated effort. Alone time feeds the muse like nothing else. Yet even writers are social creatures who need and rely on friends.
Last week I was on a panel facilitated by writer Marla Miller at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. The topic: Building your Author Platform. Quite simply, your platform is how you connect with readers.
Authors devote lots of time to building their platforms online with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as books sites like Good Reads and Shelfari. She Writes and the National Association of Memoir Writers are two of many sites that support and connect writers to other writers. Not to mention blogs, discussion groups, and online hangouts.
But what about good old fashioned face-to-face networking? At the conference I had the pleasure of meeting fellow writers – and potential readers – in person. We live in a screen-based world where most of our contacts are virtual, so it was refreshing to actually converse with people in real time.
I met one of my dearest writer friends, Madeline Tasky Sharples, the old fashioned way at a writing workshop led by Ellen Bass at Esalen. We were both grieving mothers, and we both wrote poetry. We bonded in Ellen’s workshop 14 years ago and have stayed in touch ever since.
Our friendship includes supporting each other as authors. I was there when Madeline launched her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, at Pages bookstore in Manhattan Beach in 2011.
Madeline was my special guest when I relaunched Swimming with Maya in May this year. And she was one of my fellow panelists in Santa Barbara, along with Linda Joy Myers, head of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Linda and I have been friends on Facebook for a couple of years. We finally met in person when Linda relaunched her memoir, Don’t Call me Mother, at a She Writes event in April. [photo]
It was a special treat to be together with Madeline and Linda in Santa Barbara. We did civilized things like enjoy a leisurely lunch and brainstorm ideas for workshops we might offer together. The three of us gave a well-rounded view of what it takes to build your platform both online and off during our panel presentation.
We agreed that supportive personal relationships with other writers are vital to our writing process, our success as authors, and our emotional health.
So reach out and touch a fellow writer. If you read small press or independent authors, make it a point to attend their events, talk with them, and buy their books – as well as like their author pages on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. We appreciate your support!