What Happens When Writers Meet?

Writing is a solitary life. It’s just you and the page, though, all being well, some words eventually show up. If you write novels, you may fashion some wonderful characters, but you still don’t see other people.

Going out in public once in a while is a good idea but it takes an effort. It might even mean getting dressed and putting a set of teeth in.

It’s totally worth it because, as you know, everyone’s fascinated.  Mention you’re a writer and people invariably say “How interesting.”

Royal typewriter

Sadly, the interest rarely lasts. Those same people want to tell you all about the novel they have inside them (it’s often the one that shouldn’t get out). But all a writer really wants to do is talk about their own work. After a while, few can put up with us because we either bore them to death about our books flying off the shelves at the speed of light, or bore them to death because our masterpieces are Superglued to the bottom of the Amazon rankings.

It’s sometimes the same with significant others, so the writer skulks off to the shed or spare room to keep out of the way. At this point SO usually gives a look that suggests you’re engaging in solo activities of an adolescent nature.

But it’s good to get out. A sedentary lifestyle is linked with back pain, constipation, low mood and worse: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and even breast and bowel cancer. It’s estimated that globally lack of exercise causes 5.3m deaths a year, which is roughly the same as smoking. 

There’s a lot to be gained by meeting other authors. It’s really not the same as communicating online, as fellow indie author Kevin Booth points out in a recent blog post.  When we meet, we can learn a lot from each other, in a casual, friendly and effective way.  

We’re not all introverts. Writers are often outgoing. As Kevin says

There’s a particular chemistry that seems to engage when a group of writers get together over a glass of something. If people find it difficult to stay on-topic, it’s because they are sparking creatively off each other and raising new questions that they hadn’t previously considered. I don’t think the online experience has yet been able to replicate this.

Some like meeting to critique, but other authors hate talking about their work in progress. I sometimes worry about Schrödinger’s novel. Let even a chink of light in, and the book dies. While it’s still safely in the dark box of the mind, it could be either alive or dead.

Schrödinger’s cat, you’ll recall, is based on quantum physics. Until the box is opened, the cat could be either alive or dead, or indeed, a touch of both. 

Personally, I don’t have many doubts about the cat. If you can’t hear it inside the box, scrabbling to get out, then it’s probably dead. Cats may like boxes, but they want to choose their own. Nobody should ever put a cat into a container without food, water, ventilation, and a clean kitty litter tray.

cat in box

But back to meeting other authors. Do writers bitch and argue when they meet? Hardly ever. Apart from the fact that we’re a nice bunch of people, or so I like to think, we’re also mighty relieved to find like-minded company. We enjoy each other’s books and don’t mind saying so. And, when someone is super-successful, it’s inspiring to remember that it can happen to people not so very different from ourselves. We can celebrate other writers’ triumphs, just as we commiserate over setbacks like paltry advances or poor sales.

There’s no place for petty jealousy. Out there are many millions of readers. No one author, not even one several times as prolific as Barbara Cartland, could produce enough books to keep the whole world happy.

If you write but don’t have a writing group nearby, why not start one? Self-published authors might like to join the Alliance of Independent Authors.author-member ALLi

ALLi (pronounced ‘ally’, appropriately) is a global non-profit association of author-publishers. They offer connection and collaboration, advice and education, and, importantly, also campaign to further the interests of self-publishing writers everywhere.

I come back from local ALLi meetings with a spring in my step. Here’s more of what Kevin Booth has to say on the ALLi blog about face-to-face meetings.

Every reason for getting up from your desk, then.

4 thoughts on “What Happens When Writers Meet?

  1. Great post, Carol! I completely agree that it really does a writer good to get out into the real world to meet other authors – and not only because I’m a fellow member of ALLi. Since I’ve been working full-time from home, I’ve been trying to schedule a weekly meeting with another author (a different once each time), or to meet a group of authors or attend a bookish event of some sort, and I’m always glad I’ve done it, even if it does mean I have to change out of my pyjamas now and again!
    PS Love the Schrodinger’s cat pic – I never knew it was a ginger tabby 😉

  2. Thank you very much, Debbie. Meeting other authors is like a shot in the arm (of the good kind, I hasten to add). As for Schrodinger’s cat, it could have been ginger, or tabby, tortoise-shell, black, white, Siamese, Manx, Turkish Van.. you get the picture. It may need to be all these things at once – until you open the box.

  3. We have met – and enjoyed a glass of wine together – I look forward to this weekend when we meet again, Carol. Our medical paths would never have crossed but writing pulled us together, and that makes me smile. 🙂

    Moving back to the UK, and making the effort to attend FoR21013 was the best thing I ever did. My friend list has grown, and my writing world has opened up to new adventures. I was so nervous last year, and felt out of place for about two hours, then the room was buzzing with faces I’d met online and we talked shop. No one cared, all understood, and it was wonderful to listen to dreams of new scribblings. I will be nervous for a different reason this year but am most excited to know I will not be out of place. FoR2013 gave me the courage to go to London to meet at the Blackbird pub (couldn’t attend book fair), and add to my list of friends.

    My hermit days are over, I get out more than twice a year and I love it!

  4. So glad to have met you too, Glynis, and thank you for so eloquently endorsing my views about meeting other writers. Thanks to your comments, I’m looking forward to Festival of Romantic Fiction with renewed enthusiasm. I know it will be fun, and it will be valuable.

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