Too often people want to find a reason to discourage, disparage or generally find something negative about those they feel might be in competition against them. This group does not suffer from that affliction. Instead they are one of the most helpful and encouraging bunch of fellow writers a person could hope to find. It doesn't matter that they don't all share the same interests, they don't feel the need to cut down those who write in other genres. This group covers the entire range, from middle grade, to young adult and right onto some rather sultry romance writers.
Writing is not something that is easy to share with others. If a person paints, they could sit out in public, allowing others to watch over their shoulder as they bring a landscape to life. If they compose, they can give a recital or share at the local gathering spot. In some cities, at least those with a colorful cultural image, like college towns, a poet might even be able to locate a nice little coffee house to share their work. But novel writers pretty much slave over a keyboard these days, going back over their work time and again, attempting to create something well written that might even interest others. Writing just isn't a particularly social pastime.
Worse than the individuality of writing is the outlets for launching their work. The chances for making a living at writing novels is a rather iffy prospect. Yet all to often the opportunities for getting their work a little attention means spending a decent chunk of change. Big contests often charge a hefty fee and then you're only throwing yourself into a giant cauldron of competition. Writing seminars and conferences are probably one of the best ways to make contacts with agents, but since it costs to bring those agents in, the fees for conferences is sometimes a bit daunting. Throw in the extra amount of paying travel and room expenses and it make a writer's checkbook cringe. There are small contests around, charging minimal fees, but there is also the chance they are not going to be particularly fair, or possibly even helpful. Winning may be nice, but a book on writing techniques and certificate suitable for framing aren't necessarily a big addition to the portfolio. So the isolation of writing often extends beyond the actual work and encompasses the entire process of publication.
These days we have greater access to self-publication, without the accompanying investment of the past. The problem is that it is so open that one finds they are in an field overwhelmed by every level of quality. Not only is it almost flooded with work, the promotional aspects are daunting. One must either need a whole lot of spare time, dedicated to seeking any outlet for publicity, or once again depend on the pocketbook to get a little notice. It also helps to be completely self-confident in one's work and a bit of an exhibitionist. Not in a bad way but enough that the author doesn't mind throwing out the pitch in every forum, format, or contact they meet.
I don't know where I fit in the writing world. My only certainty is the love of creating the stories. The other only thing I am positive of is my income bracket, which hovers somewhere around the poor to destitute, with occasional ventures above poverty level. Okay, maybe not that horrible but I definitely have my spot at the lower end of the income range. So when the suggestion is to fork over a measly five or six hundred for the vague chance of interesting an agent in my work, I find I'm inclined to pass on the pleasure. Sometimes, I almost feel like taking the gamble, but then something else breaks down and all bets are off.
Which brings me back to the wonders of this contest I have entered. It may never propel me to great heights; I may never manage to make it past the pitch round, but I can live with that. The rewards of discovering a fine and funny group of people who I can share the writing world with is compensation enough. These fellow writers have given me an outlet to learn, to improve, to commiserate with. They are, perhaps, one of the finest groups I know of. The is competition fierce, but the fellow competitors are there for support. Most of us are just pleased to have one chance that doesn't charge for the opportunity. So in the spirit of camaraderie, we spend our time giving advice and encouragement to one another. We may end slightly frustrated over our failure to make an impact, but at least we know someone will share this loss with us.
I am thankful for an opportunity without an investment. And more, I filled with gratefulness to be surrounded by others who can sympathize and care enough to continue sharing their support.