Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Takes a Village to Raise a Writer

I was crying within 10 minutes of opening my email today.

They were happy tears.

Last night, before I went to bed, I buckled down and finally wrote a "Goodbye" note to the discussion list for the Editorial Freelancer's Association - because I wasn't sure how much longer I'd have access to the Yahoo! Group. The organization had already given me an extra 30 days to renew my membership, but with car issues and the loss of one of my major clients this year - I simply didn't have enough.

I expected a few responses wishing me well; I'd made several friends & met wonderful colleagues on the list. I did NOT expect two of my colleagues to offer to pay for my membership!

Having been brought up by two independent parents, it took me over an hour to compose a letter accepting the gift from these colleagues and thanking them. It would have been a crime to turn it down, though.

The EFA has been a wonderful resource for me since I joined in 2005. It was the first professional group I belonged to, and it has made quite the impact on my career as a freelancer; it showed me the importance of community.

Working with the written word doesn't - and shouldn't - have to be a solitary career. Humans naturally gravitated towards each other, constantly creating and building societies. It's who we are. Despite the flaws of society/community - and there always will be flaws; we're human - creating a village is not only beneficial to the individual, but necessary.

Whether it's a grammar problem or a life problem, the community offers support and collected wisdom. One person can't know everything, nor can he or she do everything, and while even a community can't cover everything - it does offer more experience, options, and views than any individual can on her/his own.

Since joining the EFA, I've become active in several other excellent professional organizations. I'll often cross post the wisdom between them: open calls for fiction or jobs, a tidbit on grammar usage, notes on the publishing industry. I often read cross posts from others in a similar vein. When members ask for help - and even if they don't - there are individuals in the community who will shine for those in need. (And yeah, we have our periodic flame-ups, too - but even those offer something to learn.) Being part of this experience also give me the chance to help another - be it with advice, information… or a direct intervention.

If you're serious about working with the written word, look into the different professional organizations out there. I list several on my website - and I'm happy to still proudly post that I'm a member of the Editorial Freelancer's Association. It will make you not just a better writer and a better businessperson, but it might also make you a better person.

Thank you, Claire & Laurie!


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