When you write something for the first time, you're the only one who can do it. You're alone. But in several single stage beyond that, you don't have to be.
I'm headed this weekend to The Muse and the Marketplace, a conference put on by Grub Street, in Boston. It's one of several conferences I'm going to this spring. They're all different, and all wonderful. You learn something from the panels, sure, and the speakers, but what matters most is the connections you make with other writers while you're there. That's what I'm most looking forward to: the people I'm going to meet.
You don't have to go to conferences to do that, by the way. To forge connections with other writers. Some of the people whose critical opinions I most respect are other writers I only know from online. And some of my dearest friends are people who started out as online connections. I give a lot of advice to aspiring writers, and I go on at length about queries and agent research and revision and whatnot, but if I could give only one sentence of advice to any writer out there it would be this: please, please don't go it alone.
Oh, and I did click Book News on this, didn't I? Well, I've finished up revisions on The Kitchen Daughter, as discussed, and I'm forging ahead with the next book. I'm about halfway through a very, very rough first draft. It's both a pain and a pleasure to switch away from Ginny's voice, which I've been working in so long. It'll be a while before the next book becomes the focus of my "book news" here, but it's definitely underway.