One is the Loneliest Number
Apart from writing teams, like the original Ellery Queen, writing is a solitary activity. Like other writers, I have given up activities I enjoy, avoided friends and family, and lost sleep to pursue the muse. Fortunately, I have an understanding wife who can tell from the look on my face when I am involved in an important internal writing discussion over matters such as whether a semicolon would work better than a period or the word “and” or whether “punched” be more appropriate than “clobbered.”
Writing is one solitary activity that absolutely requires other people. I don’t know any successful writers who can compose work entirely on their own. Every accomplished writer has what author Joel Goldberg describes as at least one “informed reader” who has the skills and knowledge to give meaningful feedback about the author’s unfinished work. The reader could be an editor, an agent, a writing partner, a teacher or a critique group. In addition to knowing about writing, the reader needs have no personal agenda and the credibility to give negative comments in addition to pointing out strengths.
Much as I like compliments, and believe me, I LIKE compliments about my writing. What I value even more, are comments on what needs improvement. I believe there is a thin line between work that gets published and work that almost gets published.
There is no guarantee of publication, of course. Your brilliant depiction of vampire Viennese poodles may have arrived just after a story about vampire Viennese poodles has been accepted. Tastes vary of course. More than one editor has said he or she liked my writing without ever accepting any for publication.
Most of my experience has been with critique groups although I have one writer/publisher/friend who can critique my work and have it sounding more like what I would write than what I did write.
Who helps you write?