By the time you read this, I’ll be done with all of my homework and on my way to my final class. I’ll have my master’s degree! Yay!!
But right at this moment, it feels miles away. Not millions of miles away, but not just a few steps either. I’ve gone to the last session of one class and turned in my last assignment there. I have everything done for my Thursday class, literally the last session of school I’ll have before I’m gone for good. But in less than eight hours I have to turn in my last – as yet unfinished – homework assignment. The important one. My “professional project.”
It’s been a hard class for me and I’ve complained way too much about it. But it would be the same problem for anyone who went to a writer’s group or got a critique from a friend who just doesn’t read your kind of writing. They don’t know they’re not helping you, even maybe making you want to give up. They’re being really nice and sometimes they have something very insightful to say that actually makes sense to you.
But in the end, you have to find a new group, people who understand your genre enough to know how to critique it in terms of what publishers are buying. You may have to go through a few more hard times until you find the right bunch.
The morning after my last class I fly to LA and then New York. I’ll go to my old Romance Writers of America chapter and I’ll love on all my old friends, but I’ll have to keep in mind that few of them write the kind of non-sex non-romance somewhat humorous urban fantasy I’m writing right now. Then I’ll go to my favorite writer’s retreat, a whole bunch of Christian writers who are my family. They’re sooo supportive but don’t really write much or read much like what I’m writing.
Then I’ll fly to New York for the big Romance Writers of America National Conference. Though the title implies all things romance, there are a lot of writers in that 10,000+ member organization who write other things, including work similar to mine. That’s the super awesome part! The flip side is that I don’t know very many of them, so I have to seek them out. Luckily, I just joined the Young Adult RWA group. I think those people will “get me” in a way many of my academic friends don’t. (Though I’ve had some really encouraging feedback from some of my school friends!)
So when it comes down to it, it’s all a matter of degree. When I need to talk to friends about why I write what I write and how I can be encouraged and work harder and find joy, I seek out my Christian writer friends. When I want to discuss the publishing industry and talk shop about how to write better characters or add suspense, my RWA friends are the bomb. For networking and improving my professional presence, the RWA National Conference gets the job done every time.
When it comes to my academic colleagues – teachers and students – they are passionate about their work, just as I am. We haven’t always understood each other’s work, but we all knew we were on the same page when it comes to wanting to stretch and grow as writers. It’ll take more time to figure out and understand what exactly I learned over the last sixteen months. Time and distance will help me to see more clearly.
And that’s what I have to remember today. For the next few hours, I have to do the best I can as fast as I can. But once school is over, I’ll be able to take a breath, refocus my work on the market instead of the academic requirements, and get back into it with joy and energy. I expect that day to be Monday! LOL! I’m as curious as you are as to what I’ll write here next week. Where will I be in my headspace then? Surely less stressed out than I am right now. 🙂 See you then!
Kitty Bucholtz is a writer and speaker, and a member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She co-founded Routines for Writers (http://www.routinesforwriters.com/) a web site dedicated to helping writers write more. In 2011, Kitty will receive her Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree from University of Technology, Sydney.