Find Your Tribe

I love to write. I love to work on a laptop and create my stories and not have to answer to anyone else about the content. But it can be lonely.

Before I had children, I worked in the business world for various big-name tech companies as a forecast analyst and demand planner, looking after their projections for Europe, Middle East and Africa. One of my favourite parts of the job was collating the data and using a spreadsheet, becoming familiar with fancy formula and seeing what that did to my risk assessments. Nothing better than a hot cup of tea and my little corner with Excel loaded on my screen. They don’t call me the Spreadsheet Geek for nothing. My least favourite part of the job was talking to other people. I had to liaise with project managers from every country and make sure their figures were accurate, or the forecasting department (me) would be to blamed for going over or under the stock we needed. I hated picking up that phone, trying to elicit numbers out of people that they didn’t really have. Ugh.

Which is why I like writing so much better. And if you’re anything like me and didn’t do English at uni or spend a couple of years in journalism, and don’t know what the hell a query letter is, then it feels like you’re fumbling in the dark and you have no idea how to improve when the rejections start rolling in.

I spent a good five years, maybe longer, writing in a vacuum. Lucky enough to have an agent, I didn’t feel I needed anyone else. Until my books on submission with publishers got rejected too. After book three died, I had a good hard look at myself and tried to figure out what was going wrong. I realised I needed tuition. The only training I’d had in how to write a book was a Writer’s Bureau course, which is great for beginners, but I needed something more advanced.

I enrolled and got accepted for the Curtis Brown three month course with Catherine Johnson, writing for children. While the course content was good and Catherine was an excellent tutor, the element that benefited me the most was meeting other writers. Through examining and critiquing their work, I learned a vast amount about my own writing and how to improve it.

After the course I got involved in Twitter. Previously something I’d frowned upon and thought was for the generation younger than me, I scoffed myself all the way to a profile. And found other writers. It opened up my eyes, not just to meeting other people, but learning from them too.  It was on Twitter that I found my tribe: #TWPteam.

We are twelve writers all in various stages on the writing ladder. When we first met, we were all just trying to find our way. Now three of us have publishing deals and several others are very close to nabbing that agent. Being able to share successes with them is amazing, especially when you have a husbandwho doesn’t read. Even better, is celebrating our rejections together. As the rejections mount up, morale can plummet and sometimes you feel like you want to give up. TWP keep me motivated. They understand the pain and can commiserate with me. I bounce back much quicker with them behind me. Exposure to other writers also make me see how normal rejection is and that everything really is ‘subjective.’

We celebrate our rejections. Because each rejection is one step closer to that ‘yes.’ And we celebrate them with fart gifs. That’s right. Fart gifs. You might find one or two sneaky ones on Big Twitter, but mostly we keep it in a private message board (we try to be respectable). It all started when someone wrote ‘confarts’ instead of ‘congrats’ and fart gifs were born. It lightens the pain of rejection and creates a healthy competition in who can find the most outrageous gif. And lets face it, rejection is as stinky as a big, fat, smelly fart.

We learn from each other. Whether someone needs eyes on a query or synopsis or to look at a character’s arc in a complete MS, we’re there. As there’s twelve of us, there’s always a few people who have the time. It’s leveled up my writing. And while I know there is still more to learn, I’m glad I can share every moment with TWP.

I’ve been working hard on my edits for The Unadjusteds and TWP have been behind me all the way, as well as my amazing editor. Here’s an aesthetic I made recently to show you the elements involved.

GOOD LUCK! And I hope to see some of you out there in the trenches. If you want to connect with me on twitter or Instagram, here I am: @MarisaNoelle77

Answer to the riddle (What starts with an ‘e’ but only has a single letter in it?): Envelope

New Riddle:  The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?  (Answer will be posted on Twitter tomorrow)

A motivational thought/tip: It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creation – Gustave Flaubert