Many people believe that writing is a solitary effort. Well, if that’s the case then I must be doing it wrong. Between the voices of the characters in my head and the countless tweets and blogs I read I feel as if I’m being crowded with people. I guess in the days before Twitter, Facebook and well, the internet in general, writing was a solitary effort. An idea popped into your head, you sat down in front of your typewriter (yes, I know what they are…) and you wrote until you made a mistake and then brought out the white-out to fix it. No delete buttons, no advice blogs, no outside interruptions other than the ring of the doorbell or phone.
Instead of Pandora pumping out of your computer’s speakers the sound of your typewriter’s keys and the little zing at the end of the line kept you company. You hunch your shoulders and focus on the white page in front of you, determined to get the characters onto the page and out of your head. You smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. You drink coffee until your fingers are typing so fast that they are no longer typing what you want them to type. But none of that matters; all you need is you, your typewriter and your characters, and well, plenty of paper.
But I digress.
When I first hinted to Sparky that I wanted to try writing he was a little hesitant. Not because he didn’t think I could do it, remember he was one who has always encouraged me to write. His hesitation stemmed from his intimate knowledge of me…I am a people person. I need people. I need to be around them. I need to hear them talk, hear their stories. I need to study their mannerisms, their facial expressions. In short, I just need people.
A writer to him, and to many people, is a person locked in an almost solitary confinement. Stowed away in their cramped offices with overstuffed bookshelves, ashtrays overflowing with week old cigarette butts, coffee cups with brown sludge stuck to the bottom of them and days old sandwiches littered everywhere.
However, what we were both quick to learn is that as that may be the case for some, there is this new emerging writer. A writer that divides her time between reading blog posts, tweets from other authors or aspiring writers, keeping up to date on her own blog all while writing her own work. Honestly, I don’t know how writers find time for anything else in their lives other than writing. Hell, most days I’m so caught up with the media aspect of it I forget about the actual writing!
Sparky will come home wanting to catch up on each other’s days and I can’t string two words together. Most days I’m so tired from going from blog to blog thinking up useful comments or retweeting someone else’s brilliant quote or, surprise, writing my own story that my brain is total mush.
I no longer think that one must be a hermit in order to be a writer. What I think is that I need to hire a personal assistant just keep everything and everyone straight and I’m not even published!
Don’t get me wrong, I like this new aspect of writing. I get to meet new people from the comfort of my own home and learn about my craft at the same time. My worry lies in the dilemma of finding the balance between social networking and actually writing.
Which brings up the question: are writers who are just getting started putting too much emphasis on creating their platform before they have anything worthy of displaying? Should new authors just concentrate on getting their stories written? Or should they tweet, and blog, and post, sell their firstborn (she’s potty trained!) all with the hope that this will actually make a difference when it comes time to search out agents and publishers?