Writers spend a lot of time not writing. Not writing includes marketing, promotional stuff, platform building, blog posts and other ways of establishing a writer’s online presence and calling attention to the books. It also includes book signings, readings, appearing on panels and running a booth at a book fair.
The headline for this posts tells you I’m skeptical about, say, slumber parties for writers or retreats where writers show each other what they’re going and discuss it and the whole concept of write-ins.
A write-in, as I learned in an Indies Unlimited post (Do You Need to Be Closer to More Writers?) this morning is (basically) a bunch of writers with laptops assembled around a big table all typing diligently into a DOCX file some meaningful scenes in their work in progress.
Okay, for those who love these things and come home with some work accomplished, go for it. But this sounds more like an excuse to sit around and shoot the breeze and have a few beers rather than doing serious work. As far as I know the whole shebang isn’t like synchronized swimming and other similar events at the Olympics. To work, this is going to require discipline. Every time one of the writers sighs, laughs, or utters a string of profanity, everything’s going to stop and people will talk about that.
In my world, a writer goes into a cave, works on his or her book, and when it’s done, s/he comes out and gives it to an editor who cleans up the parts of it that are a mess. The whole concept of having beta readers looking over a writer’s shoulder during this process gives me the willies. Next thing, there will be focus groups to decide whether, say, allowing Bob to have sex with Jane will lose readers or gain readers.
Hemingway once told writers to be careful about talking their novel/story away. By this he meant, sitting down with another writer and telling them the plot of a story-to-be, getting into a discussion about it, and then suddenly losing the whole thing. That fits my concept of writing: nobody sees anything until it’s done. No write-ins, no beta readers, no family inputs, not posting scenes on bulletin boards for critiques, no sharing.
All that stuff leads me away from the process of creating a story. It sounds too much like a committee approach or maybe a screwing-around-drinking-coffee-rather-than-actually-writing approach.
That’s my two cents for today.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of various things which are available in various places for various prices.