Last Sunday, my three oldest daughters and two of their cousins sat around their grandfather’s kitchen table, snacking on chips and salsa while my oldest, Lucy, read aloud from a story she’s been writing. It’s straight-up fan-ficton; a blend of Keeper of the Lost Cities, the Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, The Lunar Chronicles—and at least a few more, but I can’t keep them straight. All the cousins and a few friends have been working on this saga for months, along with their own, original, works. But this is their special project that fills their fandom-loving hearts with joy. It’s a lovely thing to see.
While Lucy read her work, she was stopped frequently by bursts of laughter and exclamations. “Oh no! Lucy, how could you!” “Yes, yes, yes!” “Ha, this is so good.”
Mark and I were a room over, just listening. This moment, clearly, was the highlight of these girls’ day. It was also certainly the highlight of ours. What would most artists and writers give to be gathered around a table, chips and salsa at the ready, with a team of people just ready to appreciate you?
I used to wonder that so many artists and creators of the past seemed to know each other. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were friends?! John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rosseti and Christina Rosseti all hung out together? Amazing. What a coincidence.
Except... clearly it’s not. Clearly when creative people come together and encourage one another selflessly and generously, amazing things happen. Perhaps if C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien weren’t friends, The Lord of the Rings would never have happened. Perhaps In the Bleak Mid-winter wouldn’t exist if the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood hadn’t let Dante Gabriel’s sister hang around.
In my own life, I’ve certainly seen this dynamic at play. I might never have buckled down to writing if my sister-in-law hadn’t asked one day, “Why do we all keep talking about writing and never actually write anything?” The family critique group that we formed with me, my husband, his sister, and his mother was exactly the encouragement I needed to write a new chapter every week on what seemed then like the impossible task of writing my first novel. Attending my first SCBWI critique group meeting (and many after), the encouragement and solid critiques of professional writers helped me believe that maybe I could succeed as well. Participating in smaller sub-groups of determined writers helped me stick to the task when success wasn’t coming as quickly as I’d hoped. I honed my skill, and hopefully helped my friends hone theirs as well (many of them are published or award-winners now, so I’d like to think my encouragement made a difference to them!). My groups of “cheerleaders” have changed throughout the years, as we all had different needs and schedules and responsibilities. But they’ve always remained there for me in different ways, and that support has buoyed me up through difficult rejections and first drafts that just didn’t work and the months of teething or colicky babies when nothing got written at all.
If you don’t have your group of cheerleaders yet, consider this your invitation to GO FIND THEM. Join a writers’ group (check SCBWI if you write for children, or ask at your local library). Find friends on the internet who could form a virtual group. Leave a comment here, and maybe just the right person will see it! Just find them.
Do you already have a group of friends who encourage you through thick and thin? Let us know how you came together, or share your experience of times they’ve helped you out the most!
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!