I hope that when a hopeful young writer approaches me I am, well, approachable. I think I am. And as helpful as I can be too, although since I am only just starting out myself, there’s not a whole lot of knowledge I can share.
I have however made many mistakes so in that regard at least I can point out pitfalls and errors of judgment.
I still blush when I think of some of the agent queries I sent out. One of them was so rambling and incoherent that the agent called me just to ask me what exactly I was looking for. I mean, she couldn’t tell from the letter if I was looking for representation or just a swift kick in the pants.
Now I know better how to query and I also know how fortunate I was to have an agent take the time to phone me even if, ultimately, she didn’t want to represent me.
I’ve had the same bunch of talented and creative young people in my writing workshops for three years, and obviously I helped them as much as I could , but what I’m talking about now is the aspiring or established writers I’ve met on Twitter and Facebook and MySpace. People I don’t know at all.
Writers are solitary folk but they also seem to be social (whether or not they network on the web.) They might, like Eva Ibbotson for instance, reply to letters and postcards. Or they might be totally plugged in like R.L. Stine.
I mention these two in particular because they have both been so supportive to me. I asked Eva for a blurb back before my first book came out, and ever since then we’ve sent Christmas cards and the occasional postcard. Although she is in her 80’s and not in the best of health she still reached out to a beginning writer published by a tiny Canadian independent.
Don’t bother her for blurbs. She uses all her available time to write her wonderfully humorous, magical and touching books.
Who made me cry with a description of a worm’s death? Eva Ibbotson!
R.L. Stine is a more recent acquaintance. I wrote to him asking for an autograph for my 7 yo son,one of his millions of fans if not his biggest fan. I still can’t believe he tweeted me when I announced my Scholastic book deal on Twitter. R.L. Stine tweeted me!
You might say that it’s because these writers have achieved success. They are perfectly content and at home in comfort counting their money and resting on their achievements but they’re not. They still write one or two or ten books a year. They still do signings and appearances. They still take the time to offer support to those just starting out.
I have been overwhelmed by it. It’s what I love most about the writing community and the fellowship of writers.