Dying in a Vacuum

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First off, its been far too long since I’ve posted to this blog and that’s not good for reasons that I’ll get into in a moment. I’ve been busy lately, in life and in my writing, but that’s little excuse for my absence. I’ve been intensely insular and solitary lately, writing in a vacuum and I’ve recently come to the decision that this is not a good state to be in, at least not in the way that I have been doing it.

I think it’s almost an universal trait that writers are a solitary lot.  The very act of writing almost always begs to be done in seclusion, for the writer to get lost in their passion, like a lover on their honeymoon, to shut out the rest of the world and simply immerse yourself in your creative process.  In general, that’s a great thing.  However, if that’s all you ever do, the only state you ever exist in, then you begin to lose touch with the world around you, both in a literal sense and in a figurative one.  I’m lucky in that I work 40-plus hours a week and have a loving wife that -while she supports my writing wholeheartedly- wouldn’t let me get too lost in it.

But even if you aren’t writing every second of the day, you can still get lost: you might not communicate with other writers, not read other books or fail to focus on the craft instead of the story from time-to-time.  To some degree, i’ve been guilty of all of these for some time now.  I’ve been so focused on my book, on writing and planning and conceptualizing it, that I forgot that there’s more to being a writer than writing, as odd as that sounds.

My wife brought to my attention a four part series one of the local library systems was sponsoring and I decided that I wanted to go; even was enthusiastic about going (I’m not very social sometimes…).  The topic was Crafting a Pitch.  While I’m not likely to be participating in any writerly events that will have pitch sessions in the near future, the seminar was amazingly beneficial for a number of reasons.  While I’ll discuss the seminar itself in another post, the most important thing to relate at this point is that I was in a room with around two dozen other writers and it was refreshing and invigorating.

Being amidst other writers is a lot like being a part of an AA meeting.  We all have this obsession and a lot of the times we purposefully feel alone in our obsession.  Being around other writers gives you the chance to share your failures and successes, encourage and critique each other, and find out new ways to improve your craft and your work in a way no amount of self-help guides and webinars can.  We write about people and that requires people to truly connect with us as individuals, with our works and the very topic we so passionately write about: life, passion, fears, goals, despair.  We can’t do that in a vacuum.  A writer dies in a vacuum.

I used to be part of a writer group, the Central Oklahoma Writers guild, but unfortunately their location and hours shifted in a way that made it impossible for me to regularly attend.  I’m a member of LitReactor and Scribophile and they’re great, but I do heartily believe that face-to-face discussion and critiques is a necessity.  Beyond learning to handle someone in front of you critiquing your work (and you not being reduced to tears), you just simply need the human contact.  For myself, I’m going to start looking for a local writer’s group again.

I’m also hoping my lovely wife will take up the pen again.  She confided in me a story idea that is -without any doubt or bias- something magical and amazing.  It almost makes me a little jealous; it’s that fundamentally wonderful.  I’m also encouraging a friend at work to share a novelette he created.  Admittedly small steps, but tiny steps can eventually lead you somewhere.

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