Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about support. The kind of support that ‘creative’s,’ such as myself, need to keep plugging along when the evil voice of self-defacement buzzes in our brains. I don’t like that voice. And I’d be willing to bet that many others are in agreement with me.
Now, I’m not sure, as I’m far from an expert, but I think, generally speaking, creative’s constantly seek approval. They need justification, a nod of encouragement, high fives, or “atta boy” cheers to feel…good about what they do. But I think that’s just part of being a creative, whether your outlet is writing, painting, crafting, cooking, or any other activity where you ‘create.’ Since there’s no black or white with creative things, we have to rely on the opinion of others to know if it’s…good.
It sounds insecure, I know, but it’s the truth. You can be a bad ass cook, the kind the likes of Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay or Paula Deen bow down to, but if your bunt cake tastes like poo… Well, no one is going to think you’re a good cook. See where I’m going with this? Same with writing or painting or photography, etc. If no one likes it, then A) nobody will buy it and B) you will lack the street cred for anything in the future.
So we creative folk need a support system for those lonely nights (or days since you might be a day person) when that evil voice in our head tells us we are poo, we have nothing, we will be nothing, give it up kid! Those brave souls who stand in our corner with mighty fists of encouragement, who listen to every random rambling about your latest musing, who will give you their honest opinion and then take you for ice cream (because ice cream and chocolate heal wounded egos, for real) are heroes for the creative mind. We need you!
I got to thinking about my own support system. My own wee cheering section.
I started life as a closet artist. Throughout school, a sketch pad and pencil was my BFF. You know that quiet girl in class who sort of blended in with the classroom decor? Yeah, that was me. And I say closet artist because I was not that overly artsy kid either. Sure, my fingertips probably had more lead pencil stains than the average teen, but I wasn’t the obvious artsy kid (no green hair or splattered coveralls). And I was terribly insecure about my art.
My journal was another outlet. All through high school, I religiously documented the angst of my life. Somewhere around my freshman/sophomore year the poetry started. Several poems were born, pretty much all free form as I was not one to follow the rules (this caused trouble in art class too, my lack of rules). Rules shmoolz!
I never considered myself a writer, though. In fact, the thought sort of terrified me. At the end of my junior year, my English teacher, Mrs. Eubanks, asked me to apply for the AP English class. I declined and have come to regret that decision. Hindsight is 20/20…
But Mrs. Eubanks was my first nugget of a writing support system. My art support system consisted of family, but I always felt they were too biased for the job. My mother could draw stick figures with the best of them. My grandmother was a phenomenal painter, though I rarely saw her (more 20/20 hindsight stuff).
My early support system was far from huge. And now I understand why. I didn’t share.
Since putting on my first pair of “I’m a writer” panties, I have met so many people who are uber supportive. But that is only because I have learned to get out from behind my notepad and expose myself. Not that way, you goof, now stop. But you have to get your work out there to reap the benefits of a support system. And other writers are a great support system.
The Authoress, over at Miss Snark’s First Victim blog, had a wonderful post on this. And she’s right! I don’t know why writers are so supportive of each other, but they are. Trying to improve your craft? Yup, they will point you to one or two or fifty websites, blogs, books, forums, guides, fairy godmothers that will steer you in the right direction. Need exposure? Yup, they got that baby on lock too! Between book bloggers and Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest, or any other social platform, they help each other get the word out. How many times have you seen a published author feature another author as a ‘guest post’ on their blog/website? Yup, me too!
Point is, I am so very thankful for the folks I’ve met that have been supportive of my budding writer self. My family is great, my non-writer friends back me as best they can, and my crazy (in a fabulous way) Aunt M will wave the flag, light the fireworks, ring the bell, toss the confetti, and sucker-punch anyone who dares to bring me down. I’m only sort of kidding about the sucker-punch part… *wink*
Some of my writerly friends are already in the game, but they still send out words of encouragement. This is huge! Then others are in various stages of their own budding writer selves. Between the different meme’s, critique partners, and random blog posts or referrals, we all sort of band together. Writing contest? Secret Agent submission? Query Kick-a-rounds? Need a beta reader? Yup, we are all there to offer to read, to crit, to suggest, to commend, and to celebrate the victories (big and small) on the meandering road to publication.
I wouldn’t trade any of y’all for anything. Not for all the cookie dough ice cream and peanut butter cups I could eat. It would be tough, but I would abstain in honor of my support system. Cuz that’s how I roll y’all! I can only hope that for all the encouragement, high-fives (virtual and for-really-tho), constructive feedback, ‘go get ‘em, tiger’s you’ve bestowed upon me, that I have managed to do the same for you.
Now let’s go get some ice cream!