Is it a good idea to hang around successful writers when one is not as successful? Before I began to meet outstanding writers during our Visiting Writers program at Newberry College, I was, frankly, intimidated. But our first in a series of visiting writers was Ron Rash, whose humility, sense of humor, and approachability were a blessing. He was my responsibility while on campus, and I took that seriously.When I kept asking him if he needed anything, he finally said, "John, I'm not a prima donna." And he was not. A good guy, to be sure, who also wrote a fine blurb for my debut novel, Signs of Struggle.
There are benefits to being around successful writers. The most important is the encouragement they can provide to those of us who are still struggling with our work. They've been rejected, too. That is significant, and to hear them talk about their fight to break into print provides me incentive to keep working at it.
A good way to meet successful writers is to become a member of a writers group. I am a member of Sisters in Crime (a group of both male and female writers) that meets monthly and invites published writers to present their stories. Most recently, that writer was Susan Crawford, author of two best-selling novels, The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow. During an extended Q & A session, Susan responded patiently, thoroughly, and with good humor to every question that came from the floor. Afterward, we had a short conversation and now communicate via email. And she wants to know what I think of her work. Hard to imagine, but true.
Finally, make it a point to come into personal contact with successful writers, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Ask them questions, listen to their answers, and enjoy the encouragement most of them will provide. You will be glad you did.