Friday, May 8, 2009

The Fellowship of the Thing

No man can write in a vacuum. Or, no book is an island? Wait... No man can vacuum an island?

Scratch that. Start over.

The point is, writing can be a pretty isolated process. There's a reason authors have a tendency to become reclusive, eccentric, hunch-backed xenophobes drooling and hiding in shadows... no?
Okay, but they do tend to spend a lot of time alone. Writing, of course.

Seriously, the alone thing is a pretty big part of the appeal in my opinion. I like the idea of working my own hours. No boss, no co-workers, no politics, no tawdry office romances, chit-chat around water coolers, meetings, work parties...
well, some of that isn't all bad--I wouldn't know about the tawdry part.

Unless you're collaborating on a book, writing pretty much is like living in a vacuum. Words don't get on paper when the phone rings, the door buzzes, or the chat room beckons. I find myself opting out of visits, putting off social engagements, hiding under the couch. It's not easy to write under there, but my toddlers can't find me and delete my typing either.
The words must get down on paper.

But there is a downfall to the self-inflicted solitude, and it's basically the self-inflicted solitude.
Friends need a little attention now and then or they tend to get peevish. Husbands even more so.

While an island might be an ideal place to write, it falls a little short of producing a healthy, happy, author. Sometimes, you have to close the laptop. (just let me get to the end of this chapter) And no, you can't wait until they entice you away with chocolate. Well, you can't always wait.

Aside from avoiding fall-out on the friends and family front, the author can find many rare and wonderful things once they pry their fingers from the keyboard. For one, socialization. Personally, I couldn't live without my writing group. They understand me. They give me coffee and chocolate. They donned foam princess hats and celebrated my first sale.

Another nice benefit: feedback. I belong to two critique groups, both online and both catering to different genres. One is professional, critical (brutal) and very business oriented. The other is relaxed, supportive, gentle. Both have their place and their rewards.

I subscribe to a million online groups. To be honest, I read very little of the posts, but if I need information, I can usually find it there.
A social network can be a useful thing. Even it it's just Myspace, facebook, twitter etc.
Knowing there are others out there hiding under the couch to write, collecting and categorizing rejections, waiting in the pit of despair for a lengthy response time, and from time to time, scoring a success, keeps me going. It gets the words on paper, almost as much as actually typing them.

I'm attending my first writing conference next week. I bullied a friend into coming with me. I won't take her to the agent pitch session, but she can hold my hand while I cry about it afterwards. She'll pretend to listen to me whine on the way there. Fellowship.
Come out from under the couch.
More importantly, feed your pets, hug your kids, say hey to the spouse, AND get those words on paper.

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