We haven’t met. I don’t know where you live. I wouldn’t recognize you if we passed on the street.
And yet here we are, cheering for each other, smiling when you — a stranger — take a step closer to achieving your dream, sending one another encouragement as if we’re old friends.
I would describe myself as a closet writer over the past few years. By “few,” I mean at least ten. I wrote my first high fantasy YA novel as a high school freshman. It was a fire that consumed me for a year, and then it went out and I forgot about it. When I rediscovered my manuscript as a junior, the spark rekindled. I evolved from the private, hunched-over “no, don’t look at it, it’s mine” closet writer to the tentative “I’m proud of this and want to share it” type of writer. I tiptoed into the unfamiliar realm of publication with a trusted mentor holding my hand. When he lost faith in my work—in me—I caved in on myself and hid in my closet again.
I was admittedly in a dark place for a while. I wanted to prove him wrong and succeed without him, then send him a copy of my published book (I still aspire to do that someday). But, despite the fierceness of that want, my trust was critically wounded. Writing has always been a solitary and intimate endeavor for me. I retreated back to that safe zone where everything I wrote was private and protected.
It’s human nature to evolve. Once more, I find myself craving recognition for what I love, maybe even the chance to turn it into a career since thus far I have found nothing that satisfies me like writing does. I’m creeping out of the shadows again, but more cautiously than before, less trustworthy. College helped pull me a little farther out of my shell. I minored in creative writing, which exposed me to workshops where I received unexpected positive feedback on my writing style and enabled me to connect with fellow writers for the first time.
I won’t lie; I failed to see the appeal of Twitter when I first joined. For me, it was nothing more than a strategic move to expand my social media reach in the hopes of broadening my platform. The writing community I stumbled upon absolutely stunned me. I was suddenly connecting to some of my favorite authors as well as new ones with books I’d never heard of but wanted to read. And, to my amazement, I found people just like me — new writers passionately chasing their dream of publication.
People who hadn’t read a single word from the fantasy/sci-fi novel I’m currently seeking representation for were wishing me luck and telling me not to give up. Others were posting sayings and experiences that could have been drawn right out of my own mind. The support system I stumbled upon just by adding #amwriting at the end of a tweet still floors me. While writing itself is and will always be a private and largely solo experience, the network of like-minded people with the same ambitions is strong, healthy, and welcoming.
Thank you, Twitter authors, for welcoming me into the fold. I’ll cheer for your accomplishments, and when you feel the sting of rejection, it’s a cold, empty feeling I understand because I’ve felt it, too. The journey doesn’t feel quite as dark and ominous knowing that I’m not wandering forward blind and alone. To those who are already published, I’m grateful that you haven’t forgotten us aspiring authors and you’re willing to share your triumphs, tribulations, and tips so that we may learn from you. To those like me just getting started on that cobblestone road, may our adventures yield good fortune. We’re in it together, bound by the same passion.