It’s Virginia Woolf‘s birthday today. You may tend to think of the resigned suicide portrayed in The Hours, but she was an innovative writer with a good sense of humour and an ambition to write the kind of stories that fired her imagination.
While troubled and struggling for much of her life, Woolf survived longer than she might have done because she had a community of other writers and creators who gave her inspiration and support. Without that safety net, Woolf probably would have given in to despair even sooner. She was able to complete a number of fascinating and ground-breaking works before she took that final walk to the river.
Woolf wrote, “Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.”
Woolf reminds me of the importance of community for writers. Our work is solitary. It requires a lot of hours simply putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. While you can do that anywhere—in your office or out in a coffee shop—the process is one that requires spending much of your day inside your own head where the movies unfurl and you try to capture every nuance (or where you kick the projector to get it running again).
That’s why you need that community—people who understand that need for solitude, the difficulty of the process and the hunger to fill your head. One of the best things about Ravenous Romance is that it has brought together a whole new community of writers. There’s a broad range here, from old hands who’ve been writing erotica for years, to people new to the genre and even folks who are publishing for the first time (yay you!).
Without fail, the other writers here have been supportive, cheerleading and generous with their knowledge and experience. Just look at the blog entries here, where folks offer advice, tips and insight into the writing process. Experienced writers model the way to promote their works without being overbearing, while new writers get to share their excitement and pleasure to a wider audience. I have new friends here, on Facebook, on Twitter and the ripples widen.
In other situations, I have seen writers overwhelmed by envy and so competitive as to grudge the least bit of success to others. There’s none of that here. We all know that the success of Ravenous Romance is a tide that raises all boats. We spread the word not just to promote our own projects, but all our friends here, too. We’re an eclectic bunch and we have a publisher who celebrates it. How great is that?