Let's face it, writing is a solo sport. You need to spend days and weeks and months of time on your own to turn out a book and most of us, luckily, are quite happy in our own heads. We make friends with our characters, we live and breathe them and gain great satisfaction from their creation.
But, the problem with the life of solitude comes when you're not writing. It comes when you're trying to work out if your book is any good or when you're starting to submit your work to agents and publishers because that endeavour requires help and support.
Yes, you can read books about it, or search the internet and you can find huge amounts of information. But it's not the same as having real life people to talk to, people who understand what you're trying to do and why.
So, are your friends and family the right people to help you? Perhaps. Certainly at least it's beneficial if they support your love of writing and your quest to get published but whether they can give you decent feedback or truly understand how crushed you are at each rejection is another thing.
My family and friends have been wonderful and I'm very grateful but in my opinion other writers are the only ones who can really understand how it feels. So, if you could find a whole group of writers, all of them willing to work and learn and pass on their own knowledge to others, how marvellous would that be?
Very marvellous in my opinion. I joined the society for childrens book writers and illustrators eighteen months ago and SCBWI has been a fabulous resource for me . Not only was I able to find an online crit group but they also hold many events and classes where you can meet not only other writers, published and unpublished but also (shock, horror, gasp) real live industry professionals like agents and editors who are actually wonderfully nice people and very happy to talk to us.
There is also an online community who will answer questions and share the highs and lows of the writers life. I have met some very lovely friends through scbwi as well as meeting agents who have gone on to read my work. I may still be unpublished but I'm much further on then I would have been without SCBWI so my recommendation to all of you is to join as well!
It really is the only place I've found that's not full of negativity about the chances of getting published but in fact often has stories from members who have found an agent or received a publishing deal. Stories like that make you believe in the possibilities and that is what we all need if we are ever to find our own slice of success.