A few weeks ago, I was settling down for an evening NaNoWriMo session and I remembered that one of my favorite actors had just released a debut album with his band that week. Excitement and nerves mixed as I searched for it on Spotify, hoping that I would like it. Actually, if I’m being awesome, I was just hoping it wouldn’t be awful. Because I really liked this actor, not just for the characters he’s created, but the person he seems to be at least from my very removed vantage point. So I held my breath while I pushed play and waited.
I ended up listening to the entire album multiple times that night, not as some fangirl ploy to drive up the stream numbers, but because I genuinely liked the music. I even popped out my headphones and made my husband listen to a couple songs because it’s the type of music we like to listen to on the road trips we often take. He listened, nodded and agreed that yeah, it was good. Which is a pretty ringing endorsement considering he’s been in a few bands and has a much more sophisticated ear for music than I do.
The moment reminded me of one of my oldest friends, who also happened to be the photographer at our wedding. I’ve known this guy since elementary school and I remember when he first started playing around with his mom’s old SLR camera. Back then, I sometimes ended up on the other side of the lens as he learned the ropes and tested out different techniques. A few years later, he went from sneaking his camera into concerts to actually shooting from the press pit and having his pictures published. He’d post the links on social media and I’d take a peek, wondering if I was just biased or if he was really that good.
Spoiler alert: he is that good. In the years since, he’s traveled all over the country photographing musicians at every level. From guys he crammed into a van with to ride to Bonnaroo to The Boss. No, but really. So when I got engaged (actually even before that), I knew he was the only one I wanted to take pictures at my wedding. Maybe there were photographers who did more weddings or were cheaper, but booking him felt like a gift to both of us: I got to support one of my best friends and I was completely myself in front of the camera, which I probably wouldn’t have been with a stranger. And of course, the photos were incredible. You could feel the love and fun in every single shot.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think as writers and creators, it’s super easy to forget that there are people pulling for you. Whether it’s your loved ones or complete strangers, there are people rooting for you to succeed and willing to support you when you put your soul into creating something you love. NaNoWriMo is one of the few times when a lot of us really feel this. We know there’s a whole community of people rooting for our success, and if we’re lucky our family supports our crazy writing endeavor as well. But the rest of the year can feel lonely and defeating, especially when you’re not living up to your own expectations. When the first draft sucks (as it inevitably will) or you get the rejection instead of The Call. When another writer gets the thing you want and their social media feeds are flooded with congratulations, it’s easy to feel like no one is in your corner. But I can almost guarantee that that’s not true. People want you to succeed. They want your book to be good. They want to support you and cheer you on. All year long.