A Lonely Pursuit? Not Unless You Want It to Be.


A lot of people have this image of the novelist as a solitary type who never leaves the home office, unless it's to sit brooding in some smoky bar... or (updating on the stereotype) sit behind a laptop in a Parisian coffee house. Or maybe just the local Starbucks.

I know writers whose journey is largely solo, who don't care much for people and are quite content to live inside a world of their own making. There are probably tons more that I don't know, because they don't want me (or anyone) to bug them.

Fair enough, because I'm one of the other kind of writers. Though I enjoy and need time alone, I genuinely like people. Especially my fellow writers, with whom I have so much in common. Every once in a while, I have to come out of my cave and hang out with people who understand what it's like to feel at the mercy of some editor or agent who's ohlding my work hostage, with people who know (or crave) the challenges of deadline, with folks who'll help me brainstorm a title or untangle a knotty problem with my plot. And I love hearing about what they're up to, love helping out where I can, as long as I can keep the sharing part of me from gobbling up too much of my writing time.

Out of these writers' gatherings, which may be group meetings, conferences, or classes, I've forged some mighty alliances and met the closest friends of my adult life. Some of them, I critique with twice monthly and see even more often. Others, I run into at area writing events and enjoy a friendly catch-up session. Still others, I bump into annually at conference. There are some, too, I online know from online venues. I've never met them personally, but we come close via e-mail.

Although big crowds make me nervous and I can be socially inept in other situations, when I'm around those who love books and writing, something in me comes alive.

What about you? Do you consider yourself a loner, or do you seek out other writers? What organizations have you found most valuable?

Comments

Joni Rodgers said…
This is one of the (many) reasons you are so good for me, Colleen. I'm that archetypical hermit, especially since my kids left home, and it really isn't healthy. If not for you, I'd be rusted to this chair during research and writing phases, which is the very time you most need to keep the brain alive with fresh air and conversation.

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