Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 27 May 2012

A writer's life

Gosh, after Linda's exciting post last week, I don't really know what to say! It's always great to hear about successes. I met Linda first on a writing course in Corfu some years ago, with Katie Fforde. We had a lot of laughs (and there remain a few stories to tell), but most important of all, we formed a friendship that has lasted.
    I'm sure that writing was once a solitary occupation. Of course, it still is, because you create a world in your head, peopled by characters that only you know and can describe - and that's what's so magical about writing. You are in control of this world and only you can bring it to life and call upon others to enter your creation. There's a weird feeling of power - yes, you can create people or kill them off, set their houses on fire, make them fall in love - or out of it - save a village, destroy a planet. But with power comes responsibility. You have to bring your readers with you on the journey of your imagination. You have to make your characters true to themselves and real. You have to lay clues on the first page that tease the reader into wanting to know what dangers or challenges your characters face, and you have to make sure those clues are all unwound, unravelled and explained by the end, or you will leave your readers feeling unsatisfied. It's an activity that fills your whole head and is at the same time utterly fulfilling and totally challenging.
    Anyway, I was talking about writing being solitary. Maybe it is when you're at the keyboard, slogging away at your creation, but the truth is, it's not solitary any more. I have made some wonderful friends through my writing. I have found that well established writers like Anita Burgh, Katie Fforde and Eileen Ramsay have been extraordinarily generous with their time and expertise, not just to me, but also to other dedicated aspiring writers. I've joined e-loops (writersscotland members have become both a support and a delight, my Annie Burgh friends are a joy, as are my FAWers) and I've established a small but perfectly formed buddy group locally (thanks, Numpties!).
    There's my friends on Novel Points of View, too. We're all different, but we all understand the craft of writing, the joys it brings and the toll it takes.
   And of course, there's a whole world out there in the shape of my Twitter and Facebook friends.
   Solitary? Not any longer. Being a writer you become a part of a great, supportive, frenetic, funny, witty, erudite, emotion-filled community.
   Just give me time to write!

13 comments:

  1. Yes writing is solitary, but never lonely, especially when you get into arguments with your characters, (and you know they will win)
    i'm lucky enough to have a couple of great support groups, my crit group, and Writers Scotland, and you know there's always someone out there to share you joys and sorrows with.
    Facebook, twitter and skype are the chat lines. sometimes I have to switch the net off just to get on and write!
    But I wouldn't be without them!

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  2. So true, Jenny. I used to think writing was solitary, because I didn't share it with anyone. After several years alone in my 'garret', I joined Thames Valley Writers and suddenly, I had a bunch of like-minded people to share my passion with. It gave me a focus and through them, I was introduced to the RNA and, like you, am now a member of on-line writing groups and have made some fabulous friends.

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    1. And I'd never have met you, Jan, if it weren't for the dear old RNA...

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  3. Really enjoyed your post, Jenny. As you say, the actual writing is very much a solitary occupation which is why writers do need to have a support network of other writers. Non-writing friends are important, too, but they don't really understand the utter depression brought on by a rejection; the joy of the acceptance letter; the relief when you finally see why something isn't working in chapter ten and the frustration when your central character won't do what he/she is supposed to do. It's the ones who are writers who understand all of this.

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    1. It's that understanding of what we do that's so important. My crit group (Dianne and Jennifer) are brilliant at spotting the weak points and helping with new insights and angles.

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  4. Great post, jenny, and a very good overview of how important our online friends become. I wouldn't be without mine and add to them frequently. Only problem is the amount of time I now spend online!

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    1. That's the danger. Another thing to manage!

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  5. So true, Jenny.....great post. I also thinks writers live on the edge a bit.....always eavesdropping on interesting snippets, or people-watching etc....so never really alone...:)

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  6. But the voyeuristic part isn't quite the same as gossiping with friends, eh? But it can be fun!!

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  7. There's never been a better time to be a writer. How would we manage the rejections,as well as the successes, without the support of virtual (and real) friends?

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  8. This is an interesting post Jenny. I didn't realise you and Linda had been friends pre mutual agent days. Writing did used to be solitary so we should all be thankful for the internet giving us research and friends at our finger tips. I know I am, although sometimes I find the internet takes up too much of my reading time.

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  9. I hadn't realised how un-solitary my writing life had become until I read this. Yes the writing itself can be both solitary and fulfulling, but the friends it has brought me are numerous - and have really added something to my life, too. It's so important to have people there who understand the crazy highs and lows of writing.

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