And I mean that in a completely sincere way.
I've been part of a lot of worlds for someone my age. Other than the writing world, I've spent my life in the private school world, I splashed around the competitive swimming world for five years, and I've been in the theatre world for about a year.
I've met so many amazing people through all these worlds. I've made almost every single one of my friends through these world.
But in my experience, there is no group of people as consistently good as writer people.
Now, writer people doesn't just mean writers. I'm talking readers, agents, editors, everyone involved in the business of books. And I'll be the first to admit it- the business of books is not a rosy place full of sunshine and unicorns. It's harsh and it's tough and it can break a person's confidence.
But when it comes to the individuals, it's something else.
Of course there are not-so-pleasant people in this world. It's by no means perfect. But for every ignorant, nasty person I've run into, there have been hundreds of kind, encouraging, supportive people who honestly want you to succeed.
See, that's the thing about those other worlds. They're all about being the best, being the winner, and there can only be one winner. Those worlds are by their very nature designed to bring out the worst aspects of people. In writing, though, there's always room for more- more stories, more worlds, more authors.
Nobody wants to be the best writer. They just want to be successful. And some people are more successful than others, and sometimes that breeds contempt, but rarely does it outweigh the one thing we all have in common: our love of stories.
I've been thinking about this a lot since joining the WriteOnCon forums. On the first day I joined, I gave a bunch of encouraging, hopefully helpful critiques. Then I posted my own work and waited with a good deal of anticipation and a good deal more fear. Every time a new response popped up on one of my threads, I took a deep breath and crossed my fingers.
But I had no reason to be so worried.
Don't get me wrong- people pointed out plenty of things that weren't working for them, things that didn't make sense, things I needed to change, and more. But every time they did, it was constructive; "this would be stronger if...", "this line takes away from...", "I don't quite understand this part...", and so on and so forth. Everyone's critique was honest, but I didn't once get the impression that someone wanted me to fail.
Call me an idealist, but I believe that this is because no one did.
In the writing world, there's no shame in gushing about how much you love someone else's work. It doesn't make your work look bad in comparison. It's not a competition.
Writing is not a race; it's a journey that we're all taking together. Some people are further along the trail than others. Sometimes you get lost, and you need other people to show you the way: there's no shame in admitting you need help. Sometimes you fall. That's okay; someone's there to get you back on your feet. Sometimes you feel like you'll never make it, like you should just give up, like your destination is too far or your road has too many potholes. But there's always someone there to squeeze your hand, give you a hug, and walk along next to you for a while.
Life is hard, no matter where you are or what you do. But in the writing world, you don't have to go through it alone.