I'm a writer, too! Can I send you my work for review?
I'm so glad to hear that you have been writing - that's wonderful! Unfortunately I can not accept unsolicited material at this time. I encourage you to find a trusted friend, mentor or colleague to give you appropriate feedback on your writing, and keep going! Write, edit, write, edit, and then write some more! You can do it!
I'd like to join a writing group but I'm not sure where to start. Any suggestions?
Belonging to a group can be a great way to start and/or cultivate your writing journey and also keep you accountable for your work. There are so many writing collectives online and in person that you should be able to find one in a simple google search. I am a big believer in community and have no doubt that you'll find a group that is nurturing and supportive! ...and if you find yourself in one that isn't, look for another one!
How do I start publishing my essays?
Assuming you've done the writing (and rewriting and editing and rewriting), you now must start to read, read, and read some more! Become familiar with the outlets you are interested in pitching to get a sense if your material is a good fit. Many publications will have "submission guidelines" and will let you know everything from the kinds of essays they're looking for to word count - that is important - pay attention to what they're seeking and apply the rules they give you. You'll need to be patient (some editors can take months to get back to you!) and persistent. Rejection is as much a part of the process as editing, so don't take it personally if you get a "no" or worse, no response at all. Just pick up your pen (or laptop) and keep moving forward.
How do I get an agent?
Similar to looking for outlets who might publish your work, looking for an agent requires research and perseverance. Most published authors thank their agents or literary managers in their books and that's a great place to start, especially when it comes to books and authors you love. Most agencies also list "submission guidelines" on their website and again, pay attention to what they ask for. Agents usually specify exactly what they're looking for so don't send your novel to an agent who tells you they're only interested in non-fiction. It can take some time landing an agent so be patient. There are also many small presses and non-traditional publishers that don't require having an agent, but that would also require some research on your part and it's an area I don't know too much about. Good luck!
I'm also writing a book. Can you give me some general advice?
It is your story to tell and yours alone - so there is no right or wrong way to tell it! Be truthful, be bold, and make sure you keep writing. Many writers get frustrated or nervous sharing their story and often times stop themselves from finishing. Set a realistic schedule and goal that works for you, remember to breathe, and be kind to yourself! Writing is a fearless endeavor whether you're writing a novel with make-believe characters and scenarios, or a memoir with events and details pulled from your own life. There's a mystery to the creative process and I recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's book, "Big Magic" for anyone pursuing a creative life. Good luck - you got this!