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.”
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.
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.
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.