The writer’s life: It’s not as solitary as you might think – Amy Poeppel

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By Amy Poeppel

Before I became a writer, I had very social jobs. First I was an actress, a job that involves rehearsing scenes with a tight-knit cast and working closely with a back-stage crew. Later I taught high school English and enjoyed the constant company of students and teachers throughout the day. After I moved to New York, I worked in an admissions department, and I thrived on the office banter and constant laughs, working in a space where my colleagues and I could talk in between interviews and file reading.

When I started writing full time, I was anticipating the start of a much more solitary life, and I thought it would appeal to me; I like spending time alone with my laptop and my lapdog. I sort of imagined that I would become a hermit. And that was okay with me.

Soon after I quit my job, I got an email from a stranger: the writer Georgia Clark, author of the “feisty, feminist fairytale” The Regulars that was soon to be published by the same imprint as my book. She invited me to join her newly formed Brooklyn Writers’ Salon. The group, she said, would meet once a month with the purpose of meeting and supporting other authors, having readings of works in progress, and drinking lots of wine.

I accepted the invitation, having no idea the impact this group would actually have on me, but knowing that I really like wine. We’ve been meeting for over a year now, and thanks to Georgia, I have found a nice balance between a solitary work life and a sense of community. We attend events for each other and for other writers, such as launches and panels, and each event seems to branch into new connections. One of the members of the group, the wonderful writer and actress M. Elizabeth Lee (author of the thrilling novel Love Her Madly), just performed in a book trailer we filmed for my novel Small Admission. Another super smart woman in the group, writer and poet Sara Goudarzi, took a class with me on writing conceptual humor pieces. I hadn’t anticipated that I would be part of a fun-loving, supportive group of writers; as it turns out, my life isn’t as solitary as I’d expected.

About a year after joining this group, I added another social element to my life: The Debutante Ball, a website started in 2007 for five debut authors as they go through the year in which their books are published. In a short time, I have become friends with these women. I’ve already met two of them in person (Tiffany Jackson, Allegedly, and Crystal King, Feast of Sorrow), and I can’t wait to meet the other two debutantes (Lynn Hall, Caged Eyes, and Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie) at a gathering we’ve planned in New York City. Just as colleagues do at work, the five of us chat throughout the day on our Slack account, discuss the work at hand of running a blog, share good news and bad, worries and excitement. I’m so grateful to share the experiences of writing and publishing with these wonderful women.

Of all the things that have surprised me in becoming a full-time author, being part of a fabulous network of writers was one of the least expected… and the most appreciated.

Amy Poeppel is the author of the forthcoming novel Small Admissions. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she graduated from Wellesley College and now lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of an independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of Small Admissions at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit.

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