Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing Is a Team Sport

When I was a teenager scratching out stories in my spiral bound notebook, I thought I had to know it all. I believed every word must be mine--no advice allowed! I had this vision of The Author, a solitary soul happily typing away in some dark room. I suppose their manuscript was magically teleported to the book printer to be distributed by book stores.

This idea held through my early years in college. If a professor suggested that I go to the Writing Center, I thought it was an insult. Shouldn't my writing be completely awesome all on its own? Didn't only bad writers need help?

Then I joined the McNair Scholars Program, where I completed two research projects with the help of my mentor, Dr. Smith. I would write, and she would suggest changes. Repeat. Then I noticed something else: she asked other professors to read her work for errors. In fact, this was quite common. Upper level and graduate English majors often went to the Writing Center to have someone take a look at their writing.

Finally, I understood--writing is a team sport.

Oh sure, there is plenty of the solitary writer plugging away somewhere. Lots of hours with a blank screen staring you down. But it is impossible, and maybe a bit arrogant, to assume you can do, see, and be all. Everyone makes mistakes. Not to mention that the worlds and ideas that writers create are often too big to see all at once. The forest for the trees, my friends.

As I query my first novel, I am grateful for everyone who has given me advice and critiqued my work. I never could have done this alone. Maybe someday I'll be lucky enough to have an agent and an editor, professionals who have helped many a writer to greater heights.

Tell me, do you have a writing team?