While most people will agree that writing is a solitary endeavor, I’d like to point out one very important aspect of your social network.
My friends and I call it trusting your mirrors.
Due to human physiology, we cannot see out the back of our heads, so we can never truly see behind ourselves. We can’t tell where we’ve been with a clear view. But if you have a group of trusted confidants, then you can not only see behind you, but you can get the old “objects in mirrors appear larger than they are” aspect of it and really get a good look at what you’ve been doing.
Take a new story, for example. You write it, and if you are like most writers I know, you immediately think that it sucks. It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh off the hotplate of creation, you know, deep down, that it has negative value, you’ve wasted your time, and that this is the last thing you will ever write. Mainly because someone will finally figure out that you are a fraud and the entire house of cards will come tumbling down. Or, you know, worse.
Not everyone goes through this roller-coaster of self-doubt and recrimination, but let me tell you, I know veterans with thirty years of sales who still think like this when they finish something new. We are all meat puppets with a chemical soup battery in our heads that controls our emotions and our thoughts. Who can blame us for panicking and expecting the worse. It’s survival instincts.
But, if you are a very lucky person who has enough good sense to find like-minded individuals as well as a diverse base of support, than you can trust them to be your eyes in the back of your head.
They become your mirrors and they can show you a view of yourself that you cannot see. This is an amazing gift, let me tell you. Finding someone who you can trust to be honest and who has your best interest at heart is worth more than a Hugo, a Pulitzer or even a NY Times Bestseller slot.
Because you will always have to write the next thing and the world is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of place. A single success or failure will not define your career. If you surround yourself by good souls and put in the hard work you can maximize your success and minimize your pain.
Trust the mirrors, watch when things are larger than they appear and don’t forget to let those around you protect your flanks. It’s what friends and family are for.
If you are not careful, you may end up having a very fulfilling life with good friends, good writing and high expectations.
And probably some wine, but that’s a different post.