inspiration

Fetishizing The Process

I haunt a few writer’s groups/forums online. Most of them are populated with people around my own skill/experience level, that is, people who have been in the writing game for a while and have a few things published. One of them, however, seems to be largely populated by newer writers–ones who are just starting out, or who haven’t been published yet or haven’t been at it very long. The contrast between these two types of groups is glaring.

I once saw someone coin a brilliant phrase which has stuck with me for years, though I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it. The phrase is “fetishizing the process.” This means focusing on the superficial aspects of something rather than the technical skills involved. I’m talking about wanting a picture for your Instagram of your neatly-organized desk, as you sit behind it with your scholarly glasses on, gazing out the window at a serene landscape, a bookshelf behind you (full of other people’s books), or the person who takes pictures of their expensive Macbook in a coffee shop or on the beach with an open (empty) Word document on the screen. That’s all well and good, and you might do this from time to time, but it actually has nothing to do with writing. It doesn’t matter what you write with, if it’s a paper notebook, an electronic tablet, or a laptop with some complex writing software, you can write anywhere and on anything and still be a writer.

Look how organized and perfect he is! I bet he’s writing 2,000 words right now!

We never see pictures of writers hunched over their laptops, hair wild, in their pajamas, with a quickly-cooling cup of coffee next to them; or with a pet in their lap as they write, or screeching children dancing around them. No pictures of a writer tucked in a corner, desperately trying to escape these things in order to get a few words down. No action shots of a writer trying to find a clean spot on their desk to jot a few notes while they type. And unless you live next to the beach or in some exotic vacation-type spot, most writers will tell you those are awful places to try to write, because you’re distracted by the scenery and the knowledge you could be out there having fun instead of writing.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed new writers tend to ask on the less-experienced forum. If you’re a new writer, take heed, this may ease your anxieties a bit:

  • How many words do I need to write a day to be a writer? Stephen King says he writes 2,000 words a day! Should I write that many? Is 1,000 okay? What if I write a lot more? Or less? Here’s the truth: some days you might write a lot, and some days you might write absolutely zilch. You’re still a writer. There’s no magic number. Writers just write and set their own goals.
  • How many books about writing should I read? Should I read Stephen King’s On Writing? Is that a prerequisite? What are the best books about writing? While it’s all well and good to learn about your craft and take the advice of others, don’t procrastinate on your actual writing by reading about writing. It’s easy to get caught up in learning instead of doing. By all means, read and learn things, but again, writers write. By the way, I love Stephen King and I’ve been writing for years, and I’ve never read On Writing.
  • How soon after my first book is published can I quit my day job? Can I buy my dream house after a year? Hahahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  • Do I really need to be good at spelling and grammar? You might think I’m joking, but I’m stunned at how many new writers don’t put a lot of weight on having a strong grasp of grammar and spelling. True enough, if you’re a brilliant writer otherwise an agent or editor might overlook it, but almost probably not. Some agents and editors won’t even read past the first page of something that’s riddled with errors, even if your pitch is amazing. Yes, you have to have a firm grasp of, if not VERY good grammar and spelling skills. Agents and editors don’t have time to teach you.
  • Should I get a Macbook? Yes. No writer has ever been published without the aid of computer that costs at least a thousand dollars. Sorry.

The truth is, writing isn’t always pretty. It’s easy to get caught up in having everything ‘perfect’ when you begin writing, but it’s not necessary. You don’t need a stack of books about writing, or Scrivener, or the exact right kind of coffee. Say it with me, kids–print it out and stick it on the wall, tattoo it on your forehead:

WRITERS WRITE.

The Role of Luck In Author Success

This post might be a little hard to swallow for some. I know when I read up on this subject it opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before.

Very recently, I stumbled upon an online discussion where the participants were talking about the role that luck plays in success. Quickly, someone pointed out a logical fallacy called Survivorship Bias. In a nutshell, humans tend to vastly underestimate the role that chance and luck plays in their individual success. We tend to focus on the ones who ‘made it’ and forget about the thousands upon thousands who didn’t. Probably because it’s much more heartening and positive to look at the few survivors instead of the scores who sank below the waves.

This happens, in part, because all our favorite celebrities, authors, and public figures like to tell us that hard work, talent, and dedication can get us to the top. If we just strive and struggle and sacrifice enough, we can be just like them. ANYONE can be President, after all! While I absolutely do believe successful people put a lot of time and effort in, it’s also easy to debunk this myth by looking around us at the people we know. For every bestselling author rolling in money and movie deals, how many authors do you know who have fought just as hard, worked just as diligently, and haven’t even gotten a book deal? Maybe you’re even one of them. How many millions of authors in history gave just as much blood, sweat, and tears to their art and never got anywhere near success?

The problem is, there’s no surefire recipe for making it. You can’t be assured to get to the top, or even to a comfortable place, if you give THIS amount of effort, or have THAT much talent. This is true of any profession, not just writing. For every celebrity chef, there’s hundreds of chefs who work just as hard, toil just as much, and are just as creative but will never have their names known. For every platinum-selling rock band who plays arenas, there are bands who sound just as good and work just as hard who will never get beyond playing their local bars. Why?

Because, most successful people will talk about their hard work and effort (and again, I do believe they give those things), but only rarely mention how some big-time author happened to read their book and give it a recommendation, or it got picked up by a well-known book critic who made the public aware of them, or they just HAPPENED to write about something that was becoming hugely popular around the time their book was released and they rode the lucky wave of zeitgeist. When a celebrity tells you “if you just work a little harder you can be me,” it’s like a lottery winner saying “if you just sell your house and use the money to buy Powerball tickets, you can be like me.” What about all the lottery winners who won because they only bought one ticket? And what if you sell your house and none of those tickets win?

This all sounds very depressing, doesn’t it? The thing about luck is that it can strike anyone, but the odds of it striking you are small. However, there is a positive side, at least the way I look at it.

Hard work, knowledge, dedication, and talent DO matter, even with the wild card of luck thrown in there. Why? Because those things shrink the betting pool and give you better odds. Those things get you into networks you didn’t have available before, they give you access to people and places you wouldn’t have otherwise, and they increase your chances of running into just the right person or situation at just the right moment that will catapult you into success. Your lucky break is out there somewhere, and work, know-how, and honing your talent will put you closer to its vicinity. The reason humans hate the idea of outcomes hanging on luck is because it’s not something we can control and we hate to feel like we’re out of control. But, you can control how close you get to luck, at least. Will someone out there blindly stumble into luck without putting in any hard work first? Of course they will, and it’s going to make you furious and frustrated. But hey, it could be you someday, too. That’s the hope in luck, at least. And that’s what people really mean when they say “make your own luck.” It actually means work hard and try to throw yourself in luck’s way.

I hope you get lucky. Or at least, you work hard enough to have a brush with luck. Here’s some (un)inspiring words from Bo Burnham to get you through. (And yes, I did steal my lottery analogy from him–sorry, Bo! Just trying to get lucky!)

The Thrill Is Gone

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

My insecurity this month revolves around the fact that the second novel in my Kentucky Haints series, White Witch Magic, came out on February 21st. Well, I’m not insecure about that actually, that was pretty awesome, and it’s gotten some nice reviews and generally been well-received.

The thing is, I wrote the first and second book one right after another, a couple years ago. The story arc definitely needs a trilogy to be complete and wrap up the loose ends I left hanging at the end of the second book. I even know how I want to tie those ends up. However, I’ve written about a chapter of the third book so far and I’m feeling kinda bleh about the whole thing, just wanting to move on to something else.

I feel like if I put myself to the task I can probably complete the third book and wrap it up nicely. But I’m also wishing I wrote it when I wrote the other two, before the fire dwindled and my passion for the story dampened. Ugh. Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What did you do? Maybe simply working on the book will bring back my interest in the series. Goodness knows when I put my fingers to the keyboard and write, instead of procrastinating and whining, magical things happen.

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

One thing I’ve learned for myself is to let sleeping dogs lie. I’ve tried to reawaken stories a couple times and discovered that if I had really wanted the story to come to fruition, I would have completed it and made more of it at the time. Not to mention the further back in my writing I go, the worse it is and the more work it needs to be brought up to my current self-standards.

However, I have taken scenes from scrapped stories, reworked them, and put them into new stories. It’s a very patchwork quilt method of writing. That’s why we keep a scrap box!

The Joy In Doing

I’ve discovered lately, and maybe you already know this as a writer, that when you actually make yourself focus and write, the more you can write, and sometimes even much more than you expected to. For example:

I’m an ultra-procrastinator. I have writing projects to work on, I really do want to work on them, I have time to work on them, but when it comes to actually sitting down and getting the work done, it’s a big old groaaaan. I can find a million ways to distract myself: internet, TV, reading pointless things, doing chores. I like to write, I want to write, but that also means putting the work in, and that doesn’t seem like much fun.

But, with a lot of griping and grumbling, I finally make myself do it. I give myself a small word count to reach and tell myself if I get to that I can consider it an accomplishment. And you know what happens, very often? Once I start writing, I don’t usually stop at that small number. The words start flowing, the ideas start coming, and before I know it, I’m writing. The kind of good, happy writing that makes me feel satisfied when I’m finished with it. The other day I told myself I’d just hammer out 1,000 words and I ended up writing over 6,000! My hands were actually sore and that’s why I stopped. That doesn’t happen every day, of course, and I don’t always have time for that much work, but it just goes to show when I actually put the effort in it quickly becomes enjoyable and easy.

Sometimes it’s just about getting over that initial block and reluctance. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish after you didn’t want to start to begin with. The story is in there, if you’re willing to put the time in to follow it. It’s another one of those writing mysteries.

For example, I put off working on this blog post for a few hours, and now it’s finished. Score!

5 Reasons You Should Start A Blog

On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons you should write a book. Even if the industry has too many books and not enough readers, that doesn’t mean we don’t need your book, or that you don’t need your book. If you’re looking for reasons to keep typing, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you should start a blog.

I blog three days a week–usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it varies. So you may be surprised to hear that I, for the most part, freakin’ hate blogging. More often than not, I’m wracking my brain for the next blog topic and it’s aggravating. I never know what I’m going to write most weeks, unless I already have something lined up. I’m a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions, because I want to promote other writers, but also because on average it gives me one ready-made post per week. I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because it’s an awesome, fun group, but it also gives me a blog topic once a month. I like when it’s easy.

So why do I blog, if I don’t really like it? Well, after you read the list below, maybe you’ll understand.

And here are some reasons why you should add another blog to the internet, because clearly what the internet needs is more blogs:

Five reasons you should start a blog:

  1. It’s cathartic to talk to yourself. When you start out, probably no one is going to be reading your blog, except maybe a few friends who are too nice to tell you no when you ask them to follow you. That’s okay. Blogging is kinda like a diary when you first start out, and it helps you sort your thoughts and learn how you feel about things. It also gives you time to practice before people actually start reading your blog. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more interesting things you have to say. It’s okay to fumble around when you first start. Somehow, miraculously, after two years of blogging I have over a thousand subscribers. That means I have to provide some content instead of just talking to myself–and hopefully, I’m managing that. Talk to yourself first, and you will learn to talk to the public.
  2. If you suck at social media, it will give you a platform. I really suck at Twitter and Facebook. I had a personal Twitter a long time ago, and loved using it, but eventually my Twitter fever went away. I have a personal Facebook I’m much more active on than my writing one, but it’s locked to friends and family. My writing Facebook, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else I’m expected to be are mostly full of promotion and regurgitating my blog posts. At least with a blog I’m still reaching an audience, and I can say more here anyway. I can be present without having to be good at everything.
  3. It’s great for procrastinating on your writing. I should be working on the book I’m writing right now, but I’m blogging instead. And I can still say I’m ‘working.’ Ha! Take THAT, productivity!
  4. You can reach people who don’t even read the kind of stuff you write. I know that most of my subscribers don’t even read romance and erotica, but we’ve made friends and enjoy talking to each other because we’ve found each other through places like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is why I started a general writing blog instead of focusing on one genre of writing. I’m more interested in engaging other writers than specifically engaging other romance writers. This is up to you, though–but remember, if you make your blog very specific, you need to find a way to reach that specific audience. Sometimes broader is better. It also gives you a lot of freedom in topic matter, too.
  5. It provides site content. If your website is lacking content, if there’s not much to put on there, a blog puts some meat on the skeleton of your online presence. Also, it can be really good for driving traffic to your site. People come to read your posts and check out the rest of the site–that’s a big bonus!

Whether you have a blog already or you’re considering starting one, you should know this: the internet is infinite, and there’s room for you. If you want to blog, then blog! You have a right to express yourself just like everyone else. And even if you find it aggravating, there’s a lot of good reasons to keep at it

Have a great weekend!

10 Reasons You Should Write A Book

If you follow any writing industry blogs and/or news sites, you’ve probably read the disheartening information a million times: less people are reading books these days! Book sales are down! Print/ebooks (whichever one they’re predicting doom and gloom for this week) have had a huge dip in sales and will be obsolete by this time next year! The exact genre you write in is trash and no one is buying those kind of books anymore!

I take most industry ‘facts’ with a grain of salt, largely because I read statistics on one site and the exact opposite projections on another. It’s true we live in a weird age for books because it’s a much more digital age where people are consuming their entertainment in varying forms in ways they’ve never been able to before. I know publishing is very different now than when I first started writing many years ago. It’s true that publishing is easier but it’s harder to get people to read our books, because they’re not a limited commodity that only has one specific path to access anymore.

So under this landslide of books and this lack of readership, why should you still write a book? Because, you’re a writer! And here’s some other reasons why:

Ten reasons you should write a book:

  1. Because non-writers think it’s cool. Seriously, most people in my life who don’t write, no matter if they’re readers or not, think I’m performing some kind of arcane magic. They think I wave a wand when in reality I grit my teeth and yank my hair out a lot.
  2. It gives you reasons to be on your laptop. When people are like “are you gonna stare at that screen all day?” you can tell them you’re working, and shh, please leave me alone I’m trying to concentrate really hard. Make sure you minimize the tab full of cat memes first.
  3. You can get out of boring social situations. Feel free to turn down that invitation to your aunt’s goat’s birthday party by telling her you have a deadline to meet.
  4. You learn how to write blurbs/taglines. Every time someone asks you what your book is about you get a little bit better at telling them in as few words as possible. This trains you to write those short descriptions that have to encapsulate the entire book in one breath. The WHOLE book, in ONE sentence? Are you playing with me right now, Mr. Editor???
  5. On that note, you learn how to deal with disinterest. When people ask you what your book is about, and you tell them, and their eyes glaze over, this prepares you for when no one cares about your book on release day.
  6. Real life is boring. You get to create the fun, fast-paced, exciting world that you wish this one was, so you don’t go crazy like everyone else.
  7. It gives you something to talk about at social gatherings. At least for the first twenty seconds until people’s eyes start to glaze over.
  8. It’s fun to commiserate with other writers. Like ones who write humor-filled yet harrowing lists about what it’s like to be a writer.
  9. If you don’t write, you’re going to have to find some other creative outlet so your brain doesn’t eat itself. And frankly, no one is impressed by my ability to draw a mean stick figure.
  10. Because even if it’s true less people are reading today, and the book market is oversaturated, and it’s harder than ever to make it, somewhere out there, there’s an avid reader who is longing to get lost in the kind of worlds you create, and you need each other.

It’s a hard knock life being a writer, but most of us wouldn’t trade it for the world.

On Friday, I’ll give you five reasons why you should start a blog. Because like books, what we clearly need is more blogs!

Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when we make resolutions and promises to ourselves. The problem with resolutions is that we break them so easily, and the truth is we could choose to improve ourselves and our lives at any time of the year. However, the start of a new year seems to give us a clean slate, at least mentally. I think the reason a lot of resolutions fail is because it’s such an abrupt change. It’s hard to suddenly stop a bad habit and never pick it up again. Some people can, I’m sure, but for most of us it’s extraordinarily difficult. We would do well to start prepping for the change months in advance–that is, start doing little things and eliminating little behaviors that will ultimately set you up for success when you attempt to change altogether on January 1st.

For myself, I’m planning on making some personal changes, and I was thinking how best to make them stick. I haven’t done any ‘prepping,’ so what’s the second best solution? Of course, it’s the opposite of prepping–committing to the changes slowly over time. We see this a lot in people who want to lose weight. If you crash diet, you’re going to put the weight back on. If you lose it slowly over time and gradually change your eating habits and your lifestyle, it sticks much better.

Since this is a writing blog, I’ll address some writing resolutions that you may have, and talk about how to make them stick if you haven’t been gradually building up to your goal already.

Resolutions:

  • I want to write every day. If you don’t write every day now (I’m guilty of this, by quite a lot) you’re probably not going to start writing on January 1st and keep it up every single day of 2017. However, if you start in little increments: say, writing 200 words a day instead of 2000 when you first start, you might stick to it better. You may quickly find you don’t have time in your life to write every single day, but surely you can find the time to write 100 words? 50? It still counts as ‘writing every day,’ and the days you do have more time, you can write a lot more.
  • I want to finish X amount of stories/books in 2017. If you haven’t started on these stories/books, now is the time to start planning them. Project how long you want these works to be and how long it will take you to write them. You can perhaps schedule time frames, even. Also, pick a number that you know is realistic for you, or else you’re going to disappoint yourself and run out of steam. Even just one is better than none!
  • I want to get published. Whether going the traditional route or self-publishing, this takes work and research, and you need to do that first. Learn how to perfect a query letter, compile a list of agents or publishers, or research self-publishing services. With knowledge in hand you’re much more likely to reach your goal. Publishing isn’t just about writing, it’s a business too.
  • I want to be more active on social media/my blog. I’m terrible at social media. I hardly ever post on FB or Twitter unless it’s something promotional. However, I’m not going to be able to just jump in and become the belle of the ball. Start out making Tweets or posts a few times a week, then move up to once a day, and then if you’re really starting to feel comfortable with it, you can start posting multiple times a day and engaging your readers. Some people are just never going to get the hang of social media, and that’s okay, but remember as a writer making personal connections with your audience is important.
  • I want to get myself out there more. You can buy virtual tours, or approach bloggers yourself. Make a list of where you want to promote yourself and start finding ways to get in. Talk to people and seek out who is taking on guests. I’ve found that I can actually schedule tons of promotion without spending a dime this way.

It’s my opinion that resolutions shouldn’t be all or nothing, but should be a commitment to working toward improvement. Giving or picking something up all at once is hard, and will probably fail. However, a dedication to change over time lays a foundation for you to stand steady on.

What are your resolutions for 2017, and how do you plan to implement them?

The Idea Fairy

If you’ve been writing for any reasonable length of time, and the people around you know that you write, you’ve probably heard the question: where do you get your ideas from? This question most often comes from non-writers, who can’t wrap their mind around how you can just make something up and then put that made-up thing on paper, in coherent form, in a way that conveys emotion, message, and a plot. Some writers may ask you the question too, fishing for ways to find their own ideas.

The thing is, there’s no one clear answer to such a question. And for that reason, it’s complicated–sometimes even impossible–to come up with an adequate reply.

Ideas for stories come from everywhere. Not all the ideas in a story come at once, and they don’t all come from the same place. Stories are more like a puzzle where you take an idea from here, a vision from there, a bit of clever dialog or the elements for a scene from over there…it’s a lot of borrowing from various sources. Also, some of it doesn’t come from anywhere but our own minds.

Here are some places I ‘get my ideas from:’

  • Other stories. Not just books, but movies and TV, songs, and other forms of entertainment. I don’t mean I steal ideas, I mean that creative works can inspire us to create our own things. Sometimes I use characters I like in other works as rough templates for my own characters. Not meaning that they’re the same, but I take things I like about the original character and twist it around into something of my own. Music is very inspiring for me too. A song can tell an entire story.
  • My own life experiences. Sometimes it’s beneficial to draw things from your own life. Not only do you know those things well, it can help you understand and work through things.
  • People I know. The experiences of others can be inspiring as well. Sometimes you meet someone so interesting, or deep, or fascinating, you just have to borrow a little something from their world for your next work.
  • An inspiring event. Occasionally something happens that’s so peculiar you just have to document it. It might just be an anecdote tucked into a story somewhere, or it can become an entire story unto itself.
  • Nowhere. Sometimes, ideas just come. It’s hard to pinpoint what sparked them. You just know that you think like a writer and sometimes it happens.

It’s not easy to explain where ideas come from, at least not in the broad sense. If you ask me where I got the idea for a book, that’s hard to answer because the book taken as a whole is a series of ideas from all sorts of places. However, ask me something more specific, like how I got the idea for a character trait, or a scene, or a setting, and I might be able to explain it. Maybe. Maybe it just sprung up and I have no idea!

Where do most of your ideas come from? Do people ask you about them?

A Writer’s Gratitude

This week is Thanksgiving in the US, and for that reason it’s time to reflect on what I’m thankful for when it comes to writing. Feel free to tell me why you, too, are thankful to be a writer! You don’t need to be from the US or be celebrating Thanksgiving to share your joy.

I’m thankful to be a writer because:

  • I get to make up stories and share them with others–and sometimes, they even like them and want me to share more!
  • Writing is a form of therapy for me.
  • I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since a young age. It always gave me focus and direction, and a dream to follow.
  • Language is fun to play with.
  • I love the stories that others give the world, and I love being part of that community. Being one of them.
  • If there’s a story I’d love to read, I can write it.
  • Writing is an ever-growing skill and there’s always something new to learn. It’s never boring.
  • As a writer, I can understand the structure of and what goes into making some of my favorite stories and entertainment. Knowing how it works doesn’t ruin the magic, quite the contrary!
  • I have a ‘calling.’
  • Though I don’t make much money from writing, the fact that anybody pays me at all to do what I love is a miracle.
  • When I’m screwing around on my laptop, I can still pretend I’m working. 😉

Those are just a few of the reasons I’m thankful to be among the ranks of those who create stories for the enjoyment of others, and just as importantly, for themselves. What about being a writer makes you thankful?

Being Part of the Story

You’ve probably heard the adage that we’re all the protagonist in our own story. As writers, we appreciate writing metaphors, of course. We are the main character in the book of our life, and that can be rather comforting, or downright frightening, depending on how you look at it. We each have our own ideas about who is writing the book, and sometimes we wish they’d stop torturing us, or wonder why they’re being so kind to us. Some of us feel we are the author of our own book, and we create our own plot. But something we also should remember is that everyone has their own book, not just us.

The thing about being the protagonist of a story is that everything happens to you. You also have to go through a lot of struggles to reach your goal. A story isn’t interesting if the main character doesn’t have obstacles thrown in their way and doesn’t have to fight for what they want. We like to see the protagonist overcome–we hope for ourselves that we can overcome, as well.

Life is exactly like a story in that sense. Many things get dropped in our path and trip us up. Just like in a story, we also have advantages and disadvantages. We might have more than another person in one area, and be happy and content, but be fighting and failing in another area and striving toward something we don’t have. Life throws us plenty of plot twists: illnesses, disaster, death, heartbreak, loss, bills we can’t pay, people who hurt us, and a million other things.

The story of life is exhausting!

That’s why I also try to appreciate that I play a role in the stories of other people. I am a supporting and minor character in other people’s books, and that can be very fulfilling. We can learn, enjoy, and witness so much in the stories of others. It’s a chance to take a breath, but still be part of the great overreaching arc of a sweeping tale.

For example, I have several musician friends. I have no musical talent whatsoever and would never be part of the music world if I wasn’t a supporting character in these people’s books. Through them, I get to sit in front rows, hang out backstage, and observe musicians in their creative environment. Likewise, I know a couple filmmakers and actually got to play an assistant and extra on one of their productions–something I wouldn’t have sought out on my own, but since I was a bit character in their stories, I got to experience it.

Of course, we may find ourselves involved in the grief, hardship, and struggle of other people’s books too, but that also gives a chance to learn, grow, and find new strength for our own journey. We’re all connected. We all play parts in each other’s tales and learn from one another.

What stories are you playing a supporting character in? How does it help you on your own quest?