Thursday, December 11, 2008
Slightly Less Random Stuff About Writing This Time
Between getting over a horrible cold and finishing up finals at the college, I have been away from the computer for a few days. When I sat down to open my email, I found six messages about an article I wrote that just came out in the January Writer magazine.
The jist of the article is that I don't or wouldn't function well with a writers' group. For me, writing is an act best done alone, and in silence -- two conditions that are pretty rare in my day-to-day life. Still, I obviously find time to write since I publish on a regular basis. But I hardly ever watch tv, and I don't go out.
Seriously. I'm not sure how people who work, even part time, and have kids and write go out to parties or have other couples over for dinner. When someone says they are "dropping by" fear strikes my heart because I have to get the laundry baskets off the couch, put the baby gate up for the dog, find a spot to hide the vacuum, and try to act as if we don't live like gypsies with pillows on the floor and books all over the place. I just shut the boys' bedroom door because in there, it's just hopeless. And a little scary.
Anyway, that tangent is done. The point is this: I'm allowed to say that I don't like writers' groups, or critique groups, and that I don't think editors are always right. I guess that's arrogant. At least according to the email I received (so far 4 "against" the ideas expressed in the article; 2 stating they feel exactly as I do about writers' groups). The arrogance is because I don't take criticism of my work to heart. I stuff it away in the desk for a few days, or weeks, then look at it later and decide if the editor was right or not. After all, it is MY writing, and I may have a different vision of it than that editor does. And that probably explains why there are so many editors in the world. It's a little like dating...
I probably should have stopped writing there, but I went on to say how writers' groups are something I just can't stand. "I wouldn't be able to go on without my writers group," one email said. That's good. I wouldn't be able to go on without a fairly steady supply of chocolate, but who cares? Really. I can't imagine showing people my work when it's in the drafting stages because it seems too much like revealing myself too early in the game, or letting people "drop by" before you fix the place up a little.
My reluctance about writing groups can be explained simply. Writing is the only thing I do alone these days. It's the only physical and psychic "space" I have - and I find other people's comments on my writing, before it's in the final stages, to be distracting and, in my crabbier moments, kind of a nuisance. Comments on early writing is like an intrusion into a dream - and I mean the shrill alarm clock kind, not the someone-has-brought-you-coffee-and-bagels-in-bed kind.
But apparently, I am in the minority. Right now, my dog is the only one who is around when I am working (the cats hunker down for naps when the kids aren't home and the house is quiet). I think the only real arrogance here is thinking there is one way to write, and it's yours.