In Aelyria, ‘Patrick Lenton’ has been tasked with the awkward process of being forced to read another writers work, while they sit there and watch. This has happened to me a few times, outside of a workshop scenario and it’s always been excruciating. Especially because I’ve been trained in a certain style of criticism – you don’t bother pussyfooting around with empty compliments and platitudes, you just go straight into the meat and gristle of what’s not working, and provide solutions. When you’re sitting at a bar, and someone has pulled out seven loose-leaf sheafs of their new novel, you don’t really have the ability to do that. You’re left awkwardly talking about how good it is, desperately trying to seem engaged, but not too engaged.
That said, I love spending time with other writers. I love it when writers form communities, because they tend to be really weird and excellent people. I love talking about writing and books and just stupid stuff. When I was younger, I used to think that I only wanted to be friends with writers, which was helped along by the fact that I was studying creative writing and everyone around me was part of that world. But over the last few years, as much as I still value my writing community and my word friends, i’ve found an unexpected pleasure in getting to know people who have absolutely no tie with my insular little book bubble. This is for obvious reasons – being a writer doesn’t make you a good or a bad person (although will often tip you into being a crap person to be around), so obviously hanging around with non-writers means you get literally an entire spectrum of new cool people. BUT, the bonus is being exposed to people who are doing amazing or interesting or just different stuff. Having that exposure is so important, is a way to be inspired in all the thousands of ways that writers need to be. Getting stuck in the bubble is bad, because you stagnate in there.
This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.