Tag Archive for: writing community

The Myth of the Lone Writer

by J.M. Phillippe

Anyone who tells you that writing is a solitary activity is telling tales. Even ignoring the number of published authors who are actually writing teams (such as The Stiletto Gang’s own Sparkle Abbey), and others who use ghost writers, no writer I have ever met has ever been published without a high level of support from an entire team of people. That support usually starts with other writers — people who share the insane desire to try to create worlds out of words for others to play in.

I first met members of my personal writing support team at Western Washington University, where I took my first steps toward becoming a writer. Coming back to Washington still feels like coming home for me, and I feel more strongly tied in to the writing communities out here than in either of my other two homes (Los Angeles, CA and Brooklyn, NY).

Tod Marshall read poems in honor of Spring
 in between scheduled readers.

So I was more than happy to go with fellow Blue Zephyr Press author (and The Stiletto Gang blogger) Bethany Maines to the Creative Colloquy Third Anniversary Party in Tacoma, WA. With special guest MC Tod Marshall, the Washington State Poet Laureate, the event boasted five scheduled guest readers (all published in the Creative Colloquy literary magazine, either online or in print), and an open mic that offered a chance for others to share their work as well. Authors read to a packed house at the B Sharp Coffee Shop, and prizes were given out to audience members via raffle tickets throughout the course of the evening. (I, sadly, did not win anything.)

What I noticed most about the gathering was how many readers had teams of support with them. It seemed to me that not a single writer was there alone. And if they started off the night alone, the act of sharing their work to the group suddenly made them seem less so, as others congratulated them for reading, for having the nerve to stand up and share their words in a public space.

It was a pretty, and pretty public, space.

Being there with someone from my own support network made it all the more obvious that writing is rarely the loner activity it’s often portrayed as being. During my week visit, I had countless conversations with Bethany and others in my writing group and extended reading network about my latest writing project (a contemporary fantasy series based on a short story I wrote for a contest last year) that shaped the world I was creating. We got to spend rare time together writing in the same space, making use of the ability to use an auxiliary brain to track down words we couldn’t quite remember, being inspired by the steady clicking of the computer next to us, and generally enjoying the company of someone who gets it when you say that your characters aren’t cooperating. All of this was before we even shared the actual works themselves, a process that begins with beta readers, and, basically, never ends. Even after a work is published, it still takes other people — namely an audience — to bring it to life.

I don’t often get time to go to readings or literary events, and so I am not often reminded of just how many of us writers — and people willing to support us — there are. You’d think I’d feel intimidated, but whenever I am in a space like that, I just feel excited and proud to be part of the community around me. I’m always just so happy to know that I’m not alone in the struggle, and in the celebration, of writing.


J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.

How Bad Do You Want It?

By Cathy Perkins
We’ve been
chatting about fitness at The Stiletto Gang this month, which inevitably has
led to discussions about discipline. Or the lack of it. On my other group blog,
several people have debated whether they’ve lost their creative spark and burnt
out, or if they’ve simply lost their
discipline. Oh vey, my friend Toby
says. Discipline…

When I admired
what another friend had accomplished—her discipline in sticking to her schedule—she
bluntly upended that notion.

It’s not that I’m disciplined, it’s that
I’m committed to having the result
You don’t
need discipline when you’re committed to the outcome, because the result tells
you what choices you need to make. If you want X, then you do A, B and C.
Period. End of sentence.
I mulled that
concept over for a few days, wondering if it was a yet another platitude or a
different—better—way to look at the question. The song, How Bad Do You Want It? kept cycling through my head. If you’re
committed to a goal—be it losing that ten pounds or finishing your first,
second or tenth novel, or eating the broccoli you finally remembered to
buy—then taking the actions to make it happen follow logically and naturally.
The next set
of questions churning in my head weren’t as nice. Basically, I had to rethink everything
I thought I was committed to. It made me question the goals I’m willing to do
the work for.
None of these
things make for sound sleep at 3AM by the way.
Who wants to admit—even
to themselves—that maybe they’re not as committed as they thought they were?
Then again,
maybe it’s a chance to reassess what you really want and break it down into the
little pieces and determine what you really care about and what you can die without
having accomplished and not be the least bit bothered by it.
If you want
to write your novel (or lose that blasted ten pounds), are you committed enough
to that result, that goal, that you’re doing the work day in and day out? The
harsh truth is, if you’re not, maybe you’re not as committed to that result as
you thought you were.
And that’s
what I’m wrestling with right now.
To have what
you want, you have to be committed.
If you’ve got
goals or dreams in your head that really truly aren’t your goals—maybe it’s something you think you ought to want, or you’ve been told you should want, but you don’t really care about it, or if you didn’t
make it happen you wouldn’t lose sleep, then give yourself permission to drop those
“goals”. Don’t waste time and energy or even think about them.
Instead, refocus
on what you do want to pursue.
That’s what
alignment—commitment—is about. It’s about knowing what you want deep down.
Knowing and being willing to let go of the other stuff.
My friend continued: You’re going to lose your
focus sometimes. You’re going to fall off the wagon and be unproductive. It
happens to all of us. Checking in with yourself on a daily basis is a great way
to stay aligned with what you want and where you’re going, and also to
pick yourself back up faster when you do lose focus.
So stop
forcing yourself into dreams and goals that have other people’s names on them.
If you know you
truly want something and wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you didn’t
get it, maybe it’s time to focus and define that goal and then commit to it. No
discipline needed.
Challenge for
the week, the month, however long it takes: Dig deep and really question your
goals and dreams. If you’ve been after something for a while and you’re still
coming up short, maybe deep-down you don’t want to do it and it’s time to let
that goal go. Or, maybe you’ll find you want it more than anything and now it’s
time to step up your commitment to the result.
one result you’re so committed to you don’t need “discipline” to take


Cathy Perkins is questioning her commitment to releasing a new novella next month, Malbec Mayhem, a spinoff related to So About the Money. She has lists–lots of lists–and may survive the day to day activities needed to make it happen. 

Five Things I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at The Stiletto Gang!

On Thanksgiving, do you stop to think about all the things you’re thankful for? I do. There are so many, but most can fit into these five categories.

The top five things I’m thankful for:

5. Health and Happiness (knock on wood; we have obstacles, but overall, we’re good!)

4. Writing for a Living (to earn *a meager* living doing what you love is fantastic)

3. The writing and book loving community (truly, they are an amazing group of people)

2. Good Friends and Family (because what would life be without them?)

and number 1 on my ‘Thankful’ list is…

1. My wonderful kids and husband (because they really do give my life meaning)

Have a wonderful day!!