A writer friend of mine was telling me that she used to believe that you need connections to get your work published until (drumroll) after many years and at least two full-length manuscripts under her belt, one of her top picks for agents accepted her work. Now she's in the fast and furious world of her dream (i.e., rewriting with the help of her agent and his team of readers) and her reality (i.e., working as a professor). No special connections necessary, just a will to write and the audacity to put her work out there, time and time again.
I don't know the answer to whether or not I'll need connections to get my novel-in-waiting published, connections like having an uncle in publishing or a cousin who's an agent, to get my work out there. But perhaps the answer doesn't matter because I'm going to write anyway. And at some point, I'll make a connection that leads me to my dream to become a self-sustaining novelist, like my friend. You gotta have faith, like the song says.
Sometimes, I think my dream is so far away and I don't give enough credit to the notion that I'm living my dream now. I am writing and writing what I want to. No I'm not making a dime from it and it isn't always easy to find time, but I do. 10 minutes here and there. I have the will to write and I have the audacity to put my work out there. I even have the connections I need right now: I have writer friends who are at different stages of their careers with whom I can talk about writing - the sweetness and the bitterness of it.
My connections will continue to grow and expand as needed. When I finish my manuscript (350 pages and counting!) I will find an agent or publisher, who ever I need at that time. For now, I just need to write.
So what do you think? Are connections necessary in getting your work published? If so, how do you build connections?