If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put foundations under them.
Henry David Thoreau
I don’t remember a time I didn’t love to write. As a teenager, I would fill notebooks with stories. Never one to fall asleep easily, I drifted off while creating characters and stories instead of counting sheep.
I headed to college with dreams of journalism dancing in my head. Raised by an engineer and a poet, I was equal parts practical and passionate. I decided on a business degree, but took as many English electives as possible. One day I mustered up the courage to walk into my college newspaper. The journalism students were all too happy to pass off most budget and other finance-related articles to their lone business writer.
After college, financial institutions and banks benefitted from a lady who didn’t mind combining numbers and words. I wrote and edited bank newsletters, corporate communications, manuals and marketing materials. Still, there were characters from my notebook days still pulling at my skirt and looking at me with puppy dog eyes. I had creative stories to tell.
When my first daughter was born, I approached my mom with a grand plan: write a coming-of-age novel with both the mother and daughter’s perspectives. She was game. We built our castles, but they were precariously hanging above me without a tether. I was proud of the words, but didn’t know where to share them or who to talk to about it. My husband and I moved every two years, so I didn’t have a writing community or support. Granted, I was blessed with a very encouraging family. But, let’s be honest, family isn’t always the best source for a good, honest critique.
Flying high on creative inspiration, Mom and I jumped into the publishing world. I didn’t have a Twitter account, had just started a blog, and had no clue about LinkedIn. If only I knew then what I know now. Writers need community and support. My novel was complete, but I didn’t know which way to turn and who to ask. Ideas and characters were swirling above me, but I needed inspiration.
The online writing community has been such a blessing for me, and a big part of that was Round 3 of ROW 80. The concept is beautiful, set measurable goals but leave room for that tricky pest called Life. Writing goals completed, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Then the supportive comments started flowing. I have never before been so inspired to create and share. People cared, they wanted you to succeed.
Best of all, I have yet to walk away from a ROW 80 post without learning something, whether it was an interesting take on character development or figuring out what to do when a muse goes missing. I found my own update posts were equal parts check-in and question time. I knew my fellow writers would not let me down when I was struggling.
Writing, although incredibly fulfilling, can be a very isolating existence for most people. Don’t let it be. Find a challenge like ROW 80, join writing forums, reach out on social media, anything to surround yourself with your peers. Let your characters and imagination whisk you away, build your castles, and create the foundation to sustain them along the way.