The Myth Of The Lone Writer

A Garrett Yesterday

Once upon a time there was a garret, and in it sat a writer scribbling away, only to emerge once every three or four days gaunt and hollow-eyed to eat a few crumbs before returning to his lonely calling.

Not any more.

Thanks to social networking and writers’ groups, we now have busier social lives than Pixie Geldorf (although she probably has more conversations about new shades of nail varnish and other people’s sex lives). Between the conventions, the gatherings, the lunches and dinners it’s amazing any of us get the time to write at all. Yesterday I had lunch with (among others) Jon Courtenay Grimwood, China Mieville and Kim Newman, and everyone said the same thing – there’s not enough time to write after the social obligations (and Kim’s desire to sit through every single horror film ever made).

I haven’t been able to get to the Non-Fiction Writers’ Group for three months because it clashes with other meetings. I do a lot of social networking but that’s mainly because I enjoy it. I’ve giving a talk on Saturday that I haven’t started preparing yet (God knows I’ve had over a year). And even newbie writers seem afflicted with this – fully 50% of the entries to the Campaign For Real Fear arrived in the last 12 hours of the competition! Are we really that busy – it’s not as if publishers are quick to commission anymore – or have we merely stretched out our displacement activities further?
Mieville’s newest novel is a ‘Kraken’ read, BTW…

6 comments on “The Myth Of The Lone Writer”

  1. Metabrarian says:

    Social networking aside, speaking as a ‘newbie’ writer, holding down a full-time day job (75 mile round commute) and sharing ‘kiddie-sitting’ duties, time is an extremely precious commodity.

    I guess it won’t get any easier!!!
    😉

  2. Mary says:

    I admire all writers. It must be very stressful to be creative and not have the time to put this into action, because of other duties.

  3. Alan Morgan says:

    Nyah! All that having fun, hard times ;0)

    I have to produce alarming amounts of one-off sword and sorcery (ugh…) trash each month. Every day, nose down in my little house. Why, if there ever was daylight in Cumbria I’d never see it. I’ve been surprised to recently learn that compared to a lot of writers I make okay money – but I’d half kill to actually know anyone around here that wrote too. It would be lonely in this garret if I spent any time at all in the real world.

    Time is short when there’s too much work to be done. Get your hands dirty, by ‘eck. And so forth likewise honest, working class ramblings.

  4. I.A.M. says:

    I have great admiration for any author who puts out any decent amount of work, as well as maintaining a relationship of any sort not solely involving fish. Imaginative though many of us are, the ability to come-up with an idea that goes beyond the “intriguing and unique” stage and can be developed into a complete tale is a gift provided by an outside power [choose your own variety]. The ability to do all that and get in the business discussions with others in the same field so as to be aware of the current events in the industry just make one all the more aware of how special the people are who make these little stories we use to escape our mundane lives.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    And activity expands to fill the time available. Each event spawns another – or two – until eventually there’s no time left. It’s particularly difficult for creative people who have to talk to others in their field in order to stay current and find the outside stuff creeping into the creative time. However, lawn mowing and diaper changing are a little different from lunching or cocktail party attending.

  6. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    God knows I’ve tried. No telly in the house since digital; manky old basic mobile and resolutely refuse to be on internet at home. All that happens is I spend stupid amounts of time at my work station (after work) ‘catching up on what is out there’ – there IS no escape………….

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