Thursday, March 18, 2010

Networking- business and pleasure (Write Away Wednesday)

These days, everyone's heard about the power of networking for business. But have you ever thought about networking for pleasure. No, I don't mean facebook or twitter or myspace, or any of the other social networking sites. I mean professional networking for pleasure.

Say who? How can it be professional and pleasurable at the same time, you ask? Well, let me show you.

Sometimes, you have friends who mean well. Let me give you an example a friend of mine faced. She's an awesome superhero. She's on a weight loss program and so plans her meals, and eats well. She had a friend sabotage her once. The friend said Superhero wasn't as fun when she was counting calories. Maybe she meant well, but at the end of the day, it boiled down to one thing: she didn't really understand what was important to Superhero.

Before I got into teaching, I worked on a passenger-carrying submarine. It was the only submarine on the island. Whenever I met you new people, they'd ask "What so you do?" I'd tell them, "I work on the submarine." CLONK (sound of jaw dropping). We who worked on the sub got really close. We were like a family. There was so much that was specific to only our job, that you always had to be explaining to non-submariners.

In both cases, it's just easier sometimes to be with people in your group. A recovering alcoholic is not going to tell another recovering alcoholic, that a couple a couple sips of Dom Perignon at a 30th birthday party will be fine.

Writers need a similar network as well.

Your friends and family love you, but they will say things that don't quite fly for you. Things like:

"Why don't you just self-publish?"
"I love your first draft. You should send it to a publisher right away!"
"Wow, you got signed! So, I'll be seeing your book on shelves next month?"
"I just loved your first draft so much, I lent it to Mary, and she lent it to Jack.."

They mean well, but they don't have a clue about how the important stuff- the differences between traditional publishers and self-publishing, the length of time between signing and publishing, the importance (or even existence) of agents, why you're protective of your work, etc.

If you hang around the blogosphere, or writers' network sites like Writer's Digest community, you make friends who are in the same place as you are. They'll say things like:

"That was nice, but maybe you'd want to have Prince Charming discover that Cinderella kissed a coachman, before the ball. That way you have the conflict of them dancing together for the whole ball, where's she's deliriously happy and he's just smiling so as not to cause a scene in public."
"Did you check editors and predators to make sure that agency is legit?"
" Maybe you could merge character X and character V, they're really performing the same function."

Noone can replace your friends. Ever. But just because you trust your beautician best friend to do your makeup for your wedding, doesn't mean you should trust her to repair the engine of the plane that's flying you to the honeymoon!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I now understand why earlier writers corresponded with each other by letter, besides the fact they may have been friends there must have been solace in sharing with someone who understood. The internet had changed the need for snail mail and opened so many doors for writers to meet. I feel like a year online with writers is like going to college without having to pay tuition--and it's fun.
Thanks for your well-written post.

Claire Dawn said...

You're welcome. I love that analogy. I've only been poking around writer blogs and Writer's Digest since January, and already I feel like a different person. It's taught me so much.

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