The myth of the solitary craft

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Writing is a lonely, solitary business — hovering over a keyboard, pouring ideas from head onto paper (or electronic equivalent, more often than not), immersed deep within worlds of your own creating.

Except when it isn’t.

True, most of us need some quiet time alone to get writing done. But some of my best writing is done at The Wayward Coffeehouse with the sounds of conversation, oldies rock, and espresso machine a constant cacophony. Comic great Warren Ellis writes at the pub. Future superstars Torrey Podmajersky, Jeremy Zimmerman, and Dawn Vogel also write at The Wayward. I know several authors who write at home while children race about the house. And don’t even get me started on the constant stream of interaction and influence afforded by Twitter!

Writing doesn’t have to be solitary, shut off from outside influence. In fact, having a network of writers in your area is not only a viable social outlet, it’s invaluable for networking, improving your craft, and perfecting your marketing.

Last night I almost bailed on an author’s party. Clarion West is in session, and there was a send-off party for Graham Joyce, the teacher for last week. I was already tired from a long week, and getting to the party meant a convoluted bus trip — time that could be spent working on the projects I have to get done by the end of the month. I ignored my more anti-social internal monologue and went. And, as I expected, it was fantastic.

See, that’s the thing. It’s always fantastic being surrounded by other authors from all ranges of experience. Getting to meet new creative voices, sharing influences, sharing what you’re working on, what you believe passionately about — there is nothing else like it. I was exhausted and ready for bed when I set off for the party at 8. I was energized, wide awake, my brain buzzing with ideas when I got home 4 hours later.

This morning, I could have hung out at my house and done the editing I have on my list. I went to the Wayward, chatted with Torrey before she headed out to the rest of her Saturday, and then got to writing. In a few hours, I’ll still be here when my friend Aarron shows up to do some writing as well. When it’s all done, I’ll go make dinner and have an hour or two of alone time before heading out again.

Where, you ask?

Forgotten Realms author extraordinare Erik Scott de Bie is having a birthday at a neighborhood pub. So after a day of writing, I will spend the evening hanging out, drinking, and shooting the shit with more him, the amazing author Rosemary Jones, and who knows who else?

See…the writing community is just that. A community. And at the end of the day, there is a quiet desk back at home waiting for you if you need a little solitary time.

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