The writers’ community is a little like high school. Only fun.
For years I thought no great adult could possibly have liked high school. I thought this because I, myself, was hopeless in high school. (I know, right? Who could imagine such a thing? Me? Not cool???)
I didn’t fit in. At all. I didn’t have the right clothes and my hair didn’t feather properly and I didn’t think Stairway to Heaven was, like, the bitchin'est song ever. Adolescent sullenness and mindless pranks seemed lame. To my mind drugs made people boring, and the thought of having sex with one of my classmates made my skin crawl. I used to skip school in order to audit classes at the local community college because at least there the lectures were interesting. Or I skipped in order to paint or read or…gasp…hang out with adults. Yeah, I was *that* kid.
But back to the writers’ community as high school. It’s more fun, since you don’t actually have to go to class or take finals, and most of us are no longer too worried about acne. But in some ways, it’s a lot like high school: just about everybody knows everybody, or at least they know *of* them. There’s continual gossip about who’s sleeping with whom, and who’s acting like a dick, or who lost their advance and got dropped by their publisher or flipped out at a low royalty check. We hang out in the halls and gab, then some of us sneak out for smokes while others stay after and get extra credit…
And there are little cliques, but unlike real high school, here just about everybody has an “in” crowd to join. There are the cozy folks and the noir folks and the romance folks and the thriller folks and the literary folks. The great part is: we all secretly think we’re the in-crowd. And we are, for our readers and for each other.
When I first got swept into the Pensfatales by Sophie (you may have known her in high school: she was the one gorgeous cheerleader who was not only whip-smart but also nice, and who deigned to speak to underlings like me in the halls), I felt the thrill of being accepted into a group at the highest echelons of coolness: these great women writing romance and suspense and mystery and erotica. And each one so freaking awesome I could barely stand it. Since then we’ve shared fears and failures as well as dreams and successes. We do homework together and talk about boys and rant about The Man bringing us down. And then we each chocolate or organic peaches.
It is the sort of friendship never threatened by graduation. I am so sitting at the cool kids’ table this time around.