The prospect of interviewing a ninja is exciting all on its own. However, this is not an ordinary ninja interview it is a Narley Ninja interview, which makes it about ten times better. And on top of that, it’s the wonderful Ali Cross who discussed being part of a writing community.
Ali’s first book, Become, is being released next month and is part of the Dark C.A.R.M.A. tour. You can find out about both of them on her blog:
And the Dark C.A.R.M.A. blog:
Sensei Ali is the creator of writer’s dojo, where authors can work together to develop their writing skills. The dojo has training rooms for writing drafts, rewriting, and submitting/queries. You can even earn belted ranks as a writing ninja. They even have Ninja Chat three times a week. You really should check out the dojo.
It’s pretty easy to see why I picked Ali for this topic.
Randy: How did the Narley Ninja thing come about?
Ali: The more time I spent with other writers, the more I realized that everyone has something awesome to share. A technique, an approach, an attitude toward writing that is just so cool that everyone deserves to hear it. So I devised a regular feature that would allow writing ninjas to share their knowledge—and get a little pat-on-the-back in the process. J
Randy: As a writing ninja, what special skills and traits are needed?
Ali: The only trait needed is dedication. As for skills—we all have ’em. It’s the ninja-ing part that will help us hone them.
Randy: Traditionally, the nemesis of the ninja was the samurai. Is there an equivalent for them for the narley ones? Or for writers in general?
Ali: Heck yes. The samurai to the writing ninja is SELF-DOUBT. Ninjas can’t afford to doubt themselves. No matter the sticky situation they find themselves in, you never see them stop short and ask, “I don’t know. That jump’s awful far. Maybe I can’t do it.” NO! The ninja doesn’t stop and think, he just goes for it.
So should we, as writing ninjas, ignore that taunting samurai trying to make us doubt, and just go for it. Write another chapter, query another agent, start another book. Writing ninjas never give up and never surrender!
Randy: Being the head of the dojo seems like a lot of work. Why do you do it? And is it worth it?
Ali: My initial reaction is to say, nah, it’s not a lot of work! But yeah, lol, it kind of is. But the reason for my initial reaction is because associating with all the amazing writers I’ve met through the dojo has been such a blessing to me, that I just wouldn’t have it any other way. It is 100% worth it. I’ve made friends, been inspired, been helped and guided by all the writing ninjas—in my dojo, the student often becomes the master and I’m the better for it!
Randy: How important is it for an author to be part of a writing community?
Ali: Having tried both approaches—alone, and with friends—I can honestly say it’s unbelievably important for a writer to be a part of a writing community. Writing is a brutal activity. It’s arduous and challenging, demanding and sometimes demeaning. Associating with others who know where you’re coming from is essential for survival. Well, essential for happiness, anyway.
Randy: What is the biggest benefit from being part of a writing community?
Ali: Knowing you’re not alone. Knowing that someone else has been exactly where you are and they managed to come through (relatively) unscathed. The writing community grants the lone writing ninja courage—something we all need an extra dose of now and then.
Randy: Is the “writing community” a conglomerate of all authors, or can the term apply to smaller groups of writers?
Ali: Whoa, this is deep. I’ve never really thought about it before, but I think you can equate the writing community to humanity in general. All writers, published or otherwise, are like the global human population.
We’re not all islands floating around bumping into each other from time to time, we belong to smaller groups, typically, like a dojo or an extended family. There can be many members of your particular writing community, and while you belong to the larger one as a whole, you have closer relationships with your smaller training group—friends online that you tweet with, or always visit each other’s blogs, or whatever.
But we can go smaller from there too, like your immediately family. This would be your critique group, your close writing friends.
So while there is a general writing community, a conglomerate of all authors, there are also smaller and smaller groups that all fill a particular need in the individual writer.