On July 4th,1776, thirteen colonies declared independence from Great Britain and later formed the United States of America. Independence Day is now a federal holiday in the United States.
Independence is a tricky state of being for it can be a good thing or a bad thing. Writing is an independent profession, but for many of us we are better served not to be “too” independent. When involved in a writing community, we can share our writing and receive valuable feedback. It’s vital that we practice decorum while writing to all audiences. Being part of a diverse group of writers can help each of us to find those blind spots that may happen when we are autonomous.
Over the last two years, I’ve been working on my MFA in Creative Writing. During that time, I was part of a multifarious group of writers and had the opportunity to workshop my writing. It was a luxury. It was a luxury because I realized I can’t go back to being an independent lone writer in a room: I need my tribe. Whenever I’m about to submit a new piece of writing to an editor, there is a pause.
DO NOT PUSH SEND. DON’T DO IT. DON’T DO IT.
There are instances when I can’t help myself. I push send without seeking feedback. I’m stubborn at times. I don’t want to hear I need to write another revision. Sometimes I want to be the Lone Ranger of Writing.
But, being independent won’t serve me as a writer, for if I do publish a piece as the Lone Ranger, who will celebrate with me? I don’t want to be the person who sets off their own fireworks with no one witnessing. Besides there is always a chance, I will hurt myself. I need my friends to drive me to the emergency room—and then laugh at me when the time is right.
Today, I am writing alone in my office wondering if this piece has any blind spots. Before publishing, I will not just cross my fingers, and I will not just hope that I didn’t write anything off-putting, incorrect, or plain dumb. I will depend on my writing community, and ask: “Hey writer friends, how does this look to you? Am I being a jerk here, or does this ring true to all of you? And, by the way, if you don’t have any plans on the 4th, come on over to my BBQ. We are having a variety of burgers: meat, veggie, dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. Significant others and dependents are welcome!”
Andrea Tate is a monthly blogger for Lunch Ticket. She was recently published in the online literary journal, A Daily Dose of Lit, as well as Bleed, a literary blog for Jaded Ibis Press. Her story “You” was published in the 2013 anthology for Extracts. Andrea has served as a Creative Nonfiction Editor and Assistant Editor for Lunch Ticket. This year she will teach the on-line course for Antioch University Los Angeles, Let’s Get Personal-How to Write a Personal Essay. An advocate for theatre arts, Andrea directs as well as teaches after-school enrichment in the greater Los Angeles area. This month, her new essay, “A Real Live Baby” will be published in Role/Reboot Magazine.