• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

On Commitments, Participation and the Writing Community

https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/873670198... 300w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" data-recalc-dims="1" />image by Rebecca Siegel
On one hand, I should be breathing easy. My alter ego recently turned in the manuscript of her next book — not the first draft, and not the final final one that will appear between covers, but a very important one. She’s at the stage called Delivery and Acceptance, where you turn in your manuscript and your editor says, “Yep, we’re gonna publish this.” (And in most cases it triggers a payment from the publisher. Cha-ching! Well, mini-ching, anyway.)
On the other hand: now I have to get busy doing all the things I wasn’t doing while I was pushing through the final revisions for that book. And a shocking number of those things have to do with other people’s writing.
Writing is a mad, solitary, frustrating business, and I’ve often said that having other writers on your side makes it worthwhile. Which it does. But friendship isn’t all other writers have to offer. Maybe you have some who cheer from the sidelines for you, and you cheer from the sidelines for them, but in many cases our obligation to each other goes well beyond that. We’re not cheering from the sidelines. We’re jumping up and joining in.
Several of my writer friends read and critiqued an entire novel for me this fall, on my timeline. That is a HUGE commitment. You can say (or email) thanks over and over and over again, but the only thing that really balances the scales is to make an equal commitment. So to writers who’ve given my work thoughtful critique, I owe them the same, and I need to do it on their deadlines. Their deadlines should be almost as important to me as my own. (I’m not saying I’m flawless on this, but it is and should always be the goal.)
I have other people’s short stories and novels-in-progress to critique. I have soon-to-be-published novels to read, some to blurb if I like them, and some just to enjoy and decide how to advocate for them on social media when they come out. I have author interviews to conduct (which in most cases means reading more books), and a list of agents I recommend to make for a friend who’s about to start querying, and… you get the picture.
Is this a lot, on top of my own writing? Yes! It really, really is! But that’s the choice I’ve made.
Participation in the writing community means different things to different people. For some it’s online camaraderie. For some it’s a formal critique group. Some prefer not to participate more than necessary, saving their energy for their own pursuits. Apparently I’ve decided to go whole hog. And yes, it can be exhausting, but here’s the thing: I get out of it what I put in. Not in a tit-for-tat, scratch-my-back way, but in the broader sense. I put my energy into being a part of the writing community. And the writing community is giving that energy back to me in ways I directly benefit from.
Q: How much of your energy goes into the writing community? In what ways?

About Jael McHenryJael McHenry is the debut author of The Kitchen Daughter (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books, April 12, 2011). Her work has appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Indiana Review, and the Graduate Review at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. You can read more about Jael and her book at jaelmchenry.com or follow her on Twitter at @jaelmchenry.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

"The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he's written it."
William Golding

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Writing most likely began as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures, which needed reliable means for transmitting information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records, and similar activities.