Gayle Lynds: What a thrill to welcome Danielle Girard! With 16 novels and an array of short stories, she’s a true writers’ writer, with books that keep you turning the pages, characters you want to take home with you, and large dollops of wisdom amid the electric suspense. No wonder Danielle hits the top of bestseller lists! Sit back and enjoy this inside take on the importance of writers finding their community (i.e., their “peeps).
My first book, Savage Art, came out in August of 2000. The world had survived Y2K and I had an eight month-old, a full-time job in finance and was busy writing book two—mostly at night, after my daughter was asleep. Looking back, I can remember none of the details of those days or how I managed to get everything done. Thankfully, I had a lot more energy back then; I was only 29.
In many ways, that was the most solitary period of my life. As any mother knows, caring for an infant can be a lonely venture for the most confident of women and I was hardly that. And, of course, the writing was equally solitary. We write alone.
Ancient history for many, the early 2000s lacked so many of the incredible writer resources we have today. Facebook was still a toddler, Instagram, TikTok only a sparkle in the future’s eye. While I attended several in-person mystery writer conferences during those early years of my career, my imposter syndrome was a monster impossible to tame and the incredible and generous writers I met seemed too popular, too successful to understand what a neophyte like me experienced day to day. Surely they didn’t have doubts. They couldn’t possibly struggle over plot and unwieldy characters who refused to acquiesce to their commands. Look at them! They had it all together. Though I didn’t immediately find a community among thriller writers, I was lucky enough to meet a romance writer who invited me into her group of friends. For the first ten years of my career, San Francisco’s RWA (Romance Writers of America) was the local group I attended, their members my people. From those connections, I was lucky enough to meet Lisa Gardner who was just releasing her first thriller, The Perfect Husband.
In watching Lisa, I learned what it meant to be a career author. (I still don’t know anyone who works harder.) She helped me plot early books, guided me in those first contracts and let me cry (more than once) on her shoulder.
Fast forward 22 years, that 2000 baby is finishing college and she has a younger brother who is close to legal drinking age. What I would tell that baby writer in 2000 is: one, imposter syndrome, as most writers know, is a beast never truly tamed. The best we can do is become adept at not rising to her taunts. Two, most writers at every conference feel awkward. We are largely introverts with deep interior focus and being thrust into a group is both exhilarating and terrifying. Find one person. (Find me if I’m there!) Introduce yourself. Admit you’re nervous. I have a great suspicion that you’ll get a similar admission back. Or a story about that writer’s early conferences. Three, there is no one who will understand this part of your world like another writer. Not only do we want these people in our lives; we need them.
Today, my writing community includes people everywhere along the road of publication—from folks writing their first books to multi-award winning bestsellers. For the most part, they are equally excited and unsure. And, almost without fail, they are kind and willing to welcome new members into the fold.
Those conferences that once felt overwhelming and where I spent more time in my room than out of it are now a highlight of my year. Like being a new mom, being a writer is like falling into a raging river only half-prepared to swim.
Finding my writer community was a life raft… Though I’m sixteen books and twenty-something years in, my people are as important to me today as they were all those years ago. The best thing you can do for your writing journey is to find your people. They’re out there, I promise.
What about you, readers? What did it take for you to find your people?