Earlier this month I volunteered to lead a weekly group discussion on Brandon Sanderson's writing class lectures. The plan was to watch and discuss one lecture a week. It wasn't going to be a big time commitment and I could easily squeeze it in to my schedule. However, it occurred to me that since we were discussing the class lectures we could go one step further and really make it as authentic as possible. How? By re-creating his class.
Write About Dragons not only has video of all of Brandon's lectures, it outlines the course format. The key items that I proposed we re-create are the writing groups and the 50,000 word novel (or short story collection) over four months. Again, doing this wasn't going to be a big stretch since I needed to write that much on my WIP in order to finish it by my deadline. I also didn't expect anyone to jump for it since whenever I try to plan something I hear the Oregon symphonic cricket chorus sing their greatest hits. (It's more depressing than country western muzak. Trust me.)
It was at this time that life hit the fan and I had to drop half of my obligations so I could help with family stuff. No one died, it was just one of those things where it was all hands on deck crisis management and I just happened to have the most flexible schedule. Oh yeah, and I love my family. But since no ever comes to a party I organize I had no worries.
Well, this time I was happy to discover that I was wrong. Honestly, I shouldn't have doubted the group. We are writers and this is after all, what we do. But I was so astounded by the response...and the responsibility because oh-holy-fudge-monkeys, I have to run this thing. I tell you, I almost had kittens. For two days all I could think about was how in the world I was going to pull this off on top of everything else. That's when the most wonderful thing happened.
Someone volunteered to help.
The glorious song that filled the air at that moment killed the cricket chorus and made me the happiest non-thug on the West side. (Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. However, no one can prove that I used a flamethrower on the crickets during my "Yay! I have help!" celebratory dance.) The joy didn't stop there. Others followed suit by answering questions for me while I was away being Super-Auntie. It was fantastic! If the tank on the flamethrower wasn't empty I would have performed another celebratory dance.
Now, any other person would say thank you and move on, but I just can't do that. You see, I'm accustomed to being the Lone Ranger. I rarely ask for help when I'm overwhelmed because when I have, that damned cricket chorus would rear their ugly heads and I'd end up doing it all myself anyway. Besides, my problems usually aren't as grave as others. I don't have Jay Lake's problems so my lot isn't really that bad and since it isn't that bad, I don't need assistance.
However, to have not just one but many people pinch hit for me last week -- without being asked -- is wondrous! It made me proud to be a writer and proud to be a member of the Superstars alumni because they're the ones who stepped up. I've written in the past about how we, as writers, need to stand together and support one another so we can whether the professional and personal storms that come our way. I never expected to be the recipient of such support so early in my career. The acts may have been small, but they were exactly what I needed in this tempest and, at least for me, proved the importance of community. While this may be new to me, I can't wait until I can pay it forward. I'm going to have to wait because I'm still a bit overwhelmed and will be for a couple months. But when the storm has passed I will eagerly await an opportunity to pinch hit for someone else.
In the meantime, keep sharing the love and wisdom. (And the flamethrower fuel.)