A bit of a theme to this week's posts. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is find herself some kind of community. You need people who understand this crazy life. When you get slammed in the New York Times Book Review, people who are not writers tell you what an honor it is just to be in there and you should be happy. People who are writers never tell you this. They tell you to take the review and tear it up into pieces and stick it in the cat litter. This is advice you can use.
I made two writer friends on an online forum a decade ago and they've kept me sane all these years. One of them writes kids' books too and she reads everything I write before I send it anywhere. These are the sort of people you're happy for when good things happen to them, and when bad things happen to you they spend all their writerly energy detailing for you how worthless the perpetrators are. A fringe benefit of having writer friends: they insult people really, really well.
This is one of my favorite things about Hamline for students--you're giving yourself a community of writers, and that will stay with you. These are people who can read your drafts, who can commiserate with you, who can tell you to let your cats pee on things. These are people who get it. This is invaluable. And I'm excited about getting back to my wolf pack in the summer. (Though things are a little less feral than the analogy implies, at least at the beginning of the residency.)
On another note, here's a link for the fantasy writers on Friday morning from The Enchanted Inkpot: New Fashioned Fantasy: What Does It Look Like? It's a very interesting read, and I agree with a lot of it, though I'm always somewhat hesitant about trend pieces. They are interesting and useful, but not prescriptive. I would agree that contemporary fantasy (beginning in our world) is well outshining the traditional Tolkienesque fantasy. But don't get discouraged if you're writing a good old high fantasy; there are always exceptions. (Kristin Cashore's Graceling, as the article mentions, is a good example.) Just write your book, and write it well.