“I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so.” ―
Don’t be a Frodo.
Frodo, a hobbit from the Shire; big-hearted, innocent, with an incredibly irritating propensity for setting off alone.
The Fellowship had been compromised, the hearts of his team infected by the pull of the Ring. Frodo saw this taint and ran, unwilling to let his friends slide into the darkness in which only he was strong enough to reside. It was his burden to bear, and his alone.
He was noble, self-sacrificial, and brave.
And also, very stupid.
In sparing others, he doomed himself and his quest to failure, had it not been for the unwavering persistence of Samwise Gamgee.
People need companions.
From the very beginning of humanity, we have needed relationship. When God created man, he knew that it was not good for man to be alone, but that none of the other animals he had created were suitable enough “helpers” for him. So, God made woman. (Genesis 2:18)
We need suitable helpers to walk along side us, even to carry us when our burdens are too heavy to bear alone. Without them, we will fail. (Yes, I cry every single time Sam carries Frodo up Mount Doom, if you don’t, you have no heart).
Writing to me, has always appeared to be a solo venture. An author and her manuscript, the creator and her world, the translation from brain to paper. A long, lonely, difficult journey.
I was wrong.
You can go at it alone, much like Frodo slinking off to his canoe, determined to traverse Middle Earth on his own strength….
Or you could find your Sam.
You need people who will voyage with you, encourage you, lift you up, and push you forward when your strength is gone. People who can give you creative ideas and solutions when inspiration is fleeting.
I am not suggesting that you pursue praise, surrounding yourself with people who will affirm you when you succeed. This (at least for me) only adds to the already unbearable pressure I place upon myself to achieve.
You need people who will trek through the mess with you. Who will collaborate with you, offering pointed encouragement instead of empty praise.
My Sam has taken many forms, as you might have read in my previous post, “Dream Without Limits”. One of the most necessary, has come in the form of my writing group.
If you are an author, you NEED a writing group. A group (mine consists of 4 other writers), who will keep you accountable, reading your draft as it comes to life, helping craft the journey with you, offering critique and encouragement the entire way. People who share passion and pursuit of the same art that you do.
They should be writers that you trust, whose work you admire, and whose hearts are vying for your success, and not just their own.
Most of the manuscripts that never get published, are because they never got finished. They sit, gathering dust, or occupying megabytes of storage on some hard-drive, the author too discouraged, too exhausted, too lost on their lonely journey to keep pushing on.
They needed their Sam to swim out to their canoe, to fight their Shelob, to carry them up the side of the volcano.
Your Sams may not be able to carry your burden, but they can carry you!
Your community does not always find you, sometimes you have to be bold and reach out yourself. If you need support, ask for it. It may seem uncomfortable, and you may feel like you are inconveniencing people, but get over it. The worst thing that will happen is they say no!
If you feel alone, and have NO idea where to get started in forming a community, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Personally, I have found that getting involved in a local church has been the easiest and most rewarding way I have found my Sams.
If you have further questions on writing groups: how to form one, guidelines for each meeting, etc., leave a comment below! I will reach out to you and help you get started!