Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Lest We Drift Away
That passage was discussed at one of our church services this past Sunday, and I learned something about the verse I'd never known before. The writer of Hebrews was using a nautical analogy, though that isn't exactly obvious from most of our English translation. The phrase "give the more earnest heed" could be translated "stay moored to," like a boat to a dock. "Stay moored to the dock or your boat will drift away." The dock being, in this case, Jesus.
Now, I haven't done a study on the Greek language in the two days since I heard this, but in any case the point of remaining moored to Christ is sound. And of course within about thirty seconds of hearing these words, the concept had me thinking about the writing life as well, and the need I've discovered to stay moored to the writing community.
The writing life is largely a solitary one, often a lonely one. It comes with plenty of challenge, discouragement, and stubbornly closed doors. There are times our inner fire, that passion that caused us to start writing in the first place, can flicker, even gutter, through years of learning the writing craft, rejection, and disappointment that is a part of nearly all writers' journeys. We need the fellowship of other writers who are on the same path, those who are ahead of us and can encourage us with their experience and wisdom; those next to us so that we are assured we aren't alone; those coming behind us, who need us as much as we need those on the path ahead. Learning the craft of fiction and navigating the road to publication isn't easy, and it's a very long road for most, but we don't have to go it alone.
There is Facebook, and I like to hang out there and see what my writer friends are up to--can't count the times another writer has posted something I'm experiencing at that very moment too. Ah, fellowship, understanding. I'm not alone.
There are writer's blogs; I visit several regularly and have formed some close friendships through so doing.
There are conferences. I've attended those (and will continue to).
But the two main ways I've stayed moored to the writing community on a larger scale are through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), which provides several email loops to interact with other Christian writers. On the Main Loop you can ask and answer research questions, discuss aspects of the craft and the writing business and generally encourage and be encouraged. They have a Course Loop and a Prayer Loop too. If you are writing Christian fiction, check them out.
And then there's the Books & Writers Community. This is a secular writers' group. It's international. It's also the oldest writers forum in existence on the net. I believe it began before there even was an internet, back when you had to be a member of Compuserve to participate. I learned most of what I know about writing by hanging out daily on this forum since the mid-1990s and interacting with published and unpublished writers (many of the latter having since become published). It's also the best place I know of to learn about the world views of people from many different countries and walks of life, who are either writers or avid readers, and are an especially eloquent and articulate folk.
Tips for Books & Writers: The Books & Writers Community board is broken down into folders. You will find them on the far left side of the screen under Board Folders. I primarily visit Research & Craft, as well as Diana Gabalon's folder (this is where Gabaldon got her start as a novelist, posting bits of her first novel, Outlander. Neil Gaiman also hung out here, once upon a time.). But there is also a Kidlit folder, two folders for book discussion, one for film and stage, a journalism folder, and a folder for monthly writing exercises. It's a welcoming place.
Whether writer blogs, Facebook, a critique group, an email list group like ACFW, or a secular writer's forum works for you, stay plugged in to the community of writers for encouragement, fellowship, growth and learning, and the lifting of weary hands.
"Lest we drift away."