I’m a hermit.
It’s true. I can’t deny it. I dislike putting myself forward, blowing my own trumpet or generally mixing that much. The very word networking brings me out in a rash.
It’s not that I’m unfriendly and I actually love having a good conversation with like-minded people, or even a discussion with someone totally opposite to me, finding out new ideas and opinions.
It’s just that I’m a bit of an introvert.
But then – isn’t that a bit of a pre-requisite for a writer?
I mean, how many outgoing extroverts would be happy to sit in the corner of a room every day, banging out words that they’re not sure anybody will ever read? It takes a certain kind of self-reliance (or madness?) to be a writer, I think.
The trouble is, I’ve done that for a while now, and I thought recently that it was time I stuck my head out of the shell and had a look what was going on around me.
So, in September, I set myself the aim of trying to get outside of my writing corner and do something I’ve avoided for years. I joined a writing group. I had a negative experience years ago at a writing workshop, so it was with some great trepidation that I pushed myself to try another one.
I couldn’t have been made more welcome. A lot of the members have been going for quite some time, but there were also several newbies like me.
I have two reasons for joining the group.
- To get feedback on my work (it’s all very well my family telling me I’m brilliant, but I need impartial advice if I’m ever going to move forward with my writing) and
- I was starting to feel lonely. I admit it. Even me, the queen of the hermits, was starting to feel that I was going slowly madder each day sitting in a room surrounded by words and wondering if anybody else did this with no promise of publication.
Strangely, that’s one of the things that I’ve found so reassuring from getting out. I sit one morning a week in a room with a group of people who are also writing stuff they want feedback on – stuff they’ve poured their souls into – and who also don’t know whether they will be published or not. Interestingly, some of them aren’t even bothered about publication – they write because they write.
And I find that even more refreshing, somehow. There’s no competition, no worry about sharing ideas. It’s just a group of people with a shared love of writing.
Last night, I attended a talk given by a group of local writers about DIY (or self) publishing. Primarily, I attended because I was recently invited to join a Sheffield based website set up to celebrate local writers, writing events and the general creative hub around the city, and this was the official launch night. http://www.sheffieldauthors.co.uk/
Sheffield sometimes seems to be a bit of a forgotten city, and I’ve written on this blog before how it’s a great city to live and work in. In fact, I decided to self-publish my own ebook Pocket Full of Stones because I felt it was something which so resonated with the local area that I didn’t think a mainstream publisher would be interested in it.
Once again, the one thing which struck me as I sat and listened to fellow Sheffield writers talk about their work was the number of people who turned out to listen. All those people were presumably writers of one kind or another, many of them interested in getting published.
It always feels like a comfort when you realise you are not alone.
My deduction from all this stepping out of the hermit shell has been: either I’m not mad for carrying on writing without promise of reward – or we all are.
Sometimes, it’s good to have company in your madness.