We all know that writers are solitary lonely figures, locked away in their room, attic or stuck to the kitchen table for hours and days on end in the pursuit of their craft. Despite this, there comes a time when a writer needs to be around other writers to connect, recharge their batteries and commune with like minded folk.
From my own experience, writers are often misunderstood and at times derided figures by many others in society. When you tell someone you are a writer the first thing out of their mouth is “what you mean like ……..” and name the latest big thing.
Well, in truth, we know that to be completely wrong. For every successful and hugely successful writer there are thousands of others writing away for the love of the story and the chance that one day they will get noticed in some manner or another. They write the dream and hope that it will be their time soon. Writers are forever optimists.
I certainly do not begrudge anyone who “makes it” sells lots of books and gets noticed. Well done them, but they know that the rest of us exist and know what it is like down here in the trenches.
But, given the nature of the beast the lonely and solitary writer does at some point need to be around other writers even if only to make themselves feel a part (not apart, but a part) of a community.
From my own experience, when writers gather there is no ego, every writer wishes the best for the next one and will offer any help they can to a budding writer. I know of very successful writers who love to sit down with a cup of tea and talk about writing to other writers. Not in a big headed “look how may thousands of books I have sold” kind of way but from a position of experience and knowledge and they are willing to impart that to others.
I know this, I have sat down with them and it is true. Let me tell you of an experience I had at the first writers’ conference I went to. It was breakfast and I was sitting next to a senior lady and she asked me about my writing. Well, I gave her the full version of my tale to self publishing my first novel from the winnings of a TV quiz show. I asked her about her writing.
This is what she said, “I have been lucky enough to get my books included as part of the school curriculum for English.” After I had picked up my jaw from the floor I asked her how it was doing, she replied “very well, I have sold over a hundred thousand books this year”.
And there she was, happy to talk to me and be interested in my writing.
The same applies to a lady I know who has sold multi-millions of copies of her romantic novels in so many countries around the world I lost count. She happily sits and talks about writing and anything else that comes to mind.
This is what writers do, they are passionate about writing, writers and the craft of writing. So, it makes sense that a writer, especially an aspiring writer should at some point take the opportunity to be amongst fellow writers. It will enrich them as a writer and just being able to be amongst fellow non judgemental folk will bring them on leaps and bound because it will give them a sense of belonging and community to a discipline that is by its very nature, a solitary one.
I will be heading south to Swanwick tomorrow to be amongst around 300 or so other fellow writers for the Writers’ Summer School, a truly magical place for writers to come and be in the family of so many others who are just like them. The chance to forget about the mundane of the day and to be inspired by others, their ideas, their wisdom and all that is the craft of writing.
I also know that when I see all of my second family again, the four years that I have missed due to illness and other factors will fade away and be just a distant memory. Life long friends are made, great inspirational teachers will give their all for the benefit of others and if you can come yourself, you will be part of something truly magical that will stay for you for the rest of your days.
That is why writers sometimes need to be gregarious and a writers conference is just the place to go.
The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick can be found on http://www.wss.org.uk