Writing Does Not Have to Be (Nor Should it be) a Solitary Endeavor

As someone who enjoys and craves her solitude writing is the perfect activity for me. I can write or think about writing anywhere, anytime. I don’t have to rely on another person to write the words for me. It’s not like some activities that have multiple people involved.

It can though. That’s what I’m learning and completly embracing. How can I need my alone time and want collaboration at the same time? Easy. In a word it’s all about Community.

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Sitting down to write is definitely, more or less, the part of writing that requires you to “work alone”.  Other people can be in the room while you write, you can even engage with them, but the thoughts and words you put down are yours until you’re ready to share them. You have to figure out how the story goes, the who, what, and where.

That is not to say that’s all there is to writing. Your writing community includes workshop and writing partners, your draft readers, your editors, and the folks who support you. (I even like to include the folks I read as a part of my writing community. Their interviews and insights help me too. If they’re willing to share their experience, why not use that to my advantage?) Think about it, writing involves so much more than just writing. First and foremost writing is reading. But how do you choose what to read? Maybe you take a suggestion from an avid reader you know, your librarian, a popular blogger, or a friend. In doing this you’ve just engaged in community.

Writing is also critique. Getting feedback and alternate perspective from your peers. Hearing someone else talk about your writing breaks open the bubble where you think you have it all figured out. It introduces new ways to think about your story. Whether you end up using that is up to you.

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Writing is open mic night at your local coffee shop or bookstore where you get to share your voice with intent listeners. This sets the stage for you to give an audience an experience.

Writing is showing support to other writers at their readings and signings. Not one of us can do it alone.

As much as I absolutely need my time I also need other writers and this community. It can be lonely talking to the characters you create (sometimes they pout or ignore you). I’m constantly reminding myself to get out of the house and engage with real flesh and blood people.

You should too.  The community is there so acknowledge them, interact with them, and let them help you grow as a writer.

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Putting Words into Action

The West End Poetry Festival is taking place

Oct. 18th through Oct. 21st in Carrboro NC

If you’re around, check it out!

 

 

What Books Make the Writer?

Did you ever read Bridge to Terabithia or Tuck Everlasting? What about The Phantom Tollbooth? Any of the Ramona Quimby books?

I did. I remember reading all of those books. While some of the details of what goes on in those stories are hazy, I remember how they made me feel. Adventurous, brave, curious. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to “do that”, create worlds and stories that readers just didn’t want to put down.

It’s funny. All I’ve ever wanted to do is write and I’ve managed to do so in some way for a while now.  I’ve been lucky, besides the time I got caught writing on the living room wall with a red lipstick, that my love of reading and writing has been praised and encouraged.

I know that I write because I truly enjoy it. I feel the most like myself when I’m actively putting words down to figure out what’s happening or could happen in a story. Writing is also therapeutic and healing to me.

But when did this love turn into the thing that I must do? When did it get serious for me? Was it gradually or all at once?

Recently the Lit Hub article The Books That Made Your Favorite Writers Want to Write came across my Facebook timeline. Writers like Sherman Alexie and Zadie Smith know the exact book that made them want to be writers. How cool is that? Something locked into place for them and they knew or decided that they wanted to “do that” too.

The last few days I’ve been wondering which book(s) made me want to write. Was it Ramona Quimby, Age 8? Onion John? Maybe a short story from the anthologies I read in high school. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, maybe? Was it poetry in college? Nikki Giovanni’s Ego-Tripping, perhaps?

At this point it would be nice to know what tipped the scales for me, but I don’t think it really matters.

I’m writing. I am a writer.