I just got back from a coffee break with a fellow member of New Jersey Romance Writers. She and I follow each other on Twitter, have participated together in JeRoWriMo and are online acquaintances. She contacted me a couple of weeks ago and asked to meet in order to ask me some question about my publishing experience (I still can’t believe I have that!).
I was happy to get together with her. Number one, I’m always happy to share my own experiences with someone. The experiences are unique to me, and my advice may not work for everyone, but it’s still a worthy experience sharing them. And sharing benefits both of us. Sometimes it helps me to clarify my strategy by having to explain it to someone else. And the other person gets the benefit of hearing what worked for another person—even if they decide not to do what I did, at least they’re navigating their way through the maze of the publishing world.
Number two, there have been so many people along the way who have helped me, it’s nice to give back. We actually discussed this. Neither of us is sure if the willingness to help each other is exclusive to romance writers in general or NJ romance writers in particular, but a potentially competitive field has provided a wealth of information to me and to her.
Without exception, everyone I’ve met, whether it’s been in person or online, has been more than willing to share their expertise and experiences. Just having someone to bounce an idea off of, or to commiserate with, is enough to keep me going even when the rejections stack up and the writer’s block sets in. And hopefully, I’m providing that encouragement to others.
And number three, it was fun to meet someone who has similar life experiences to mine. Although I’m published and she’s not (yet), our writing lives are comparable. We both have children around the same age; we both have to juggle our writing lives with our regular lives; we both seem to feel guilty about making time to do this; and we both are a bit shy when it comes to mingling at meetings and conferences (J).
On Saturday, we are both going to our NJRW meeting. I haven’t been in a while and neither has she—it’s hard to devote an entire day to writing when we have children with social lives more complicated than our own. And as I said earlier, we’re both a bit hesitant to walk into a room where everyone knows each other. But now we know each other. So Saturday morning we’ll be looking out for each other.
And that’s the best benefit by far of networking!