A lonely business
March 15, 2012
I never really understood the saying: ‘Writing is a lonely business.’ I suppose if you consider the physical logistics it’d be difficult if you weren’t alone. As for the solitude, I’m never tapping away thinking I could do with a bit of company. It’s often the opposite – solitude means longer to write. The reality is the characters of my stories exist as vivid entities with hopes and fears all of their own. Writing is about walking their journey with them, it never feels lonely at all.
For some strange reason I really thought I’d be able to publish a book alone too. It has been rightly said I struggle on the control front, in that I’m not very good at letting go. It’s not so much I think I’m better at doing stuff than everyone else, it’s just that I struggle to imagine anyone doing what I have in my mind better than me. Of course I did eventually realise I would need help, a realisation driven by a need to do the story justice. As it happens turning my story into a book was one of the most creatively liberating experiences I’ve ever had. The copy editor heroically worked to give the story a consistent grammatical narrative and fixed so many typos it took me almost a day to go through them. The proof editor spotted the last few plot inconsistencies and a whole bunch of missing hyphens, and a few more typos. A photographer took my fuzzy concept for a cover photograph and added story to the image itself. The model danced her way from shot to shot, rarely giving us the same look until we had ‘the look’. A graphic designer surpassed my wildest expectations in stylising the image and creating a title that demanded attention.
This wonderful collaborative experience led me late in December to give my approach to writing a serious rethink. I wondered what I might learn from other writers and what I might have to offer in return. I’d spent some time on writing sites but never interacted with living breathing people. I’m not normally a social animal. I’m an outside looking in kind of person, not someone that is the life and soul of a gathering. Back in 2005 broadening my reading scope had propelled me to a different level of writing, which gave me the platform to begin ‘Chasing Innocence‘. Collaborating to make the book a quality product was a real revelation to me. My experiences as an indie publisher and author have slowly pulled me towards the value of collaboration. In fact I think within the indie forum it is even more important.
At the end of January I found myself nervously amongst a group of other writers. This group of writers. It was the first time I’d sat down with people with the sole intention of talking about writing. How liberating. Usually when people that don’t write learn you’re writing a book, they ask whether it’s finished? Is it published? And cough politely and move on, while your still only half-way through your speel about the book. In this group there are writers of childrens and YA fiction, Sci-Fi and country living websites, a life coach building a website and finishing a book, and a proper published author of historical romance. Others are doing what I spent the last two years doing – trying to turn their fiction into something people might want to read. Two months down the line I have found it incredibly exciting and have learned so much from the shared knowledge and different approaches. I possibly get too excited, I’m like a kid in a candy store. And while I always love to get back to my keyboard and characters, this writing world is even less of a lonely business than it ever has been.