Last night as I was cooking dinner, the phone rang. My sister-in-law needed a favor. I instantly thought that she needed my son to watch her son or something of that nature. Nothing could have prepared me for what she said next.
"Your brother cut off his finger at work and it's being reattached."
"He cut off one of his fingers and is in the ER at Mercy Hospital. I need to meet him there. The kids aren't answering the phone at the house. Can you go check on them?"
We live about 5 blocks away from each other and I was already looking for my car keys.
"They will need to fend for themselves for dinner."
"Nonsense," I said. "I'm cooking spaghetti and there's enough for everyone, I'll bring them here and feed them."
Within minutes of hanging up, I had my two nieces, my nephew and my stepson piled into the car. The kids were excited for spaghetti and meatballs and only mildly concerned that their father had chopped his finger off. They were debating how many stitches he was going to need while shoveling pasta into their mouths. Bless their hearts.
An hour later my brother and sister-in-law showed up at the house. Apparently it was the tip of his finger (right above the first knuckle) and it was only 3/4 of the way cut-off. Gruesome details such as the skin being peeled back, exposing raw flesh, were revealed, much to the disgusted delight of the kids. Our dog was more excited about the new chew toy attached to my brother's hand. "No, Bullwinkle! Bad dog!"
"It could have been worse," my brother said.
"Yes, it could have been your middle finger," I responded. Many laughs ensued. We could laugh about it because it wasn't as bad as we all had imagined.
How does this tie into writing?
Today I kept thinking about support systems. My sister-in-law was able to call on me in her time of need and I was there for her. The security of knowing one person (or a couple people) you would trust with your life and who will be there to bail you out, no questions asked, is important.
The same applies for writing. All writers go through periods of self-doubt where we are convinced anything we've ever written is crap (also explains why Poe and Hemmingway had a problem with the drink). Having someone you can call during these dark periods is essential. Even if it's one other person, this person is your writing lifeline.
My writing lifeline is my friend Nicole. We found each other by accident (or maybe fate brought us together), when Nicole posted on a forum she wanted to start a writer's group. This is when I discovered we already knew each other through a project at work, which we outsource to her company. We had worked together for a year and neither of us knew the other was a writer. After our first writer's group meeting we realized we had the same goals, the same drive and even gave ourselves the same nickname, "Hard Core" (no not porn). Fortunately, we write different genres and aren't competition, otherwise we'd probably have to kill each other. He he.
She understands when I begin to hate every word I've written or I start to doubt I'll ever attain my dream. She pushes me through and encourages me to stay the course. When she begins to doubt herself, I'm there for her. We can vent to each other and share new ideas without the fear of criticism.
Also, through Twitter and shewrites.com, I've found a great group of writers who experience the same growing pains. It's nice to know a support system is out there; a net has been cast to catch me when I fall.
Who is your safety net? I'd love to hear about how they've helped you with your writing.