It took some time to figure out what I really needed.
I need to issue a correction.
Well, okay, not really a correction. I wrote a column a while back that I don’t necessarily agree with anymore. At its worst, it came across as exhausted of other writers. And, hey, writers can be exhausting. We’re very needy people. I’m a writer. I know this.
But the mistake I need to address isn’t in reference to that. I wrote that column searching for an answer and ended up at the wrong one. The column, weary and selfish, was about needing a break from the writing community. But it wasn’t what was needed.
My Gen X generation is, hopefully, the last that will be ignorant of self-care. When I was a teen and in my 20s, self-care wasn’t a concept thoroughly explored; it was ridiculed. We didn’t treat it with the loathing prior generations did, but we lacked the raw openness and painful honesty that this current generation has the courage to embrace. Gen X was somewhere in the middle of the two, an isolated bridge in the dark, unsure of where it ended.
And what I sorely needed, the dimly lit outcome that last column sought, was self-care. But not in the way I imagined.
In that column, I said I was taking a break from serving the writing community to focus on my own work. Instead, I did the complete opposite and participated in Pitch Wars.
For those who don’t know, Pitch Wars is an annual event designed to partner aspiring novelists with traditionally published writers in the hopes of landing those aspirants an agent. The contest has grown in reputation and size over the years through the hard work of a determined team of volunteers. This is my first time taking part.
I was hesitant about serving as a mentor. For one thing, most mentors are enthusiastic and supportive and tweet a lot, and I wasn’t really feeling any of those things. Plus, I suck at Twitter. And writing is a solitary activity, and there’s something about that solitude that’s attractive to writers, regardless of whether they’re introverts or extroverts. When we plunge into writing, as I wanted to and did, we’re plunging into solitude.
I received over a hundred Pitch Wars manuscripts. To my surprise, reviewing those books brought me a lovely sense of care. Seeing the hope these writers have put into their work reminded me of my own, and there was a wonderful moment when I remembered that I had the ability to help them…which isn’t something, throughout life, we can always offer so distinctly, so directly.
Pitch Wars reminded me of a concept I’d forgotten: When you work for others, that work nourishes you.
Since 2020, I’d felt like I was reaching the end of a long and unfulfilling race. I saw the finish line but was uninspired to reach it, which is a terrible thing for a writer.
Helping others gave me a second wind.
I started that last column by asking a question I lacked the energy to answer: When is D.C.’s next Noir at the Bar?
I close this one by telling you that it’s happening Sunday night, December 5th.
I hope you join us. It’ll be a good time.
E.A. Aymar’s latest novel, written as E.A. Barres, is They’re Gone.