Newsletter 024: 10-14-2022
About the image above: What makes an image look lonely? The path in the image heads off toward darkness in the distance. Is it leading to a denser, darker forest? There are no signs of people or structures, or even animals. Anything could be in there, and you might wander lost forever. Actually, those trees are at Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home in Oxford, Mississippi, and the grounds were very nice to wander through despite their gloomy appearance in the picture. See an image, at the end below, of some woods that don’t seem as lonely.
I think what I’m about to say is true for most writers, but I can only speak for myself and my personal process. Writing can be a lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be. I can’t write in a total vacuum, but I do need periods of solitude when I’m actually putting the words on the page (or into the digital file), and when I’m editing those words after my terrible first draft. Like any other human being, I need human contact, though, so I’m fortunate that my wife also works from our home. She’s a quilter and a quilt pattern designer, and, since she does some of her designing on a computer, she shares my small writing room for the first hour or so each morning (where she can plug into our Ethernet hub). Then she usually moves elsewhere in the house where she has more room (and a sewing machine) to work on her creations.
People who are serious about being novelists could easily end up spending a lot of time physically alone, so they often form or join critique groups and join writers’ organizations. I belong to the Writers’ League of Texas, the Authors Guild, and the Gutsy Great Novelist Writers Studio that I mentioned a couple of newsletters ago. They have connected me to other people who experience the same ups and downs that our profession often engenders. It was especially helpful during the recent pandemic, since they all have active online communities. Before the pandemic I also belonged to several critique groups where small groups of writers would gather together and help each other fix problems with the novels we were each working on. At some point I will likely start doing that again because of the immediate feedback critique groups provide, but I’m still not comfortable enough about person-to-person meetings to do that on a regular basis.
I’m interested in how others weathered the last couple of years. If you did something that worked particularly well for you, when this newsletter posts on my blog a week from now, post a comment and let me know what you did, or just shoot me an email.
A Brief Note: This newsletter will take on a slightly different look (most of the time), beginning with the next one. I’ll explain why, but the topic for that newsletter will be round-robin novels.
See you then,
[“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost, 1923.]
A not-so-lonely set of woods. Clearly man-made, you can see all the way through to the other side where there are cars, and buildings, and people. Civilization. The picture was taken in San Diego, California, April 15, 2004.
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