Writing is lonely. There’s a reason we crave reviews and thoughts from our readers- while it’s all in our own heads and on our computers it’s not as real as when others get at it. It’s more than affirmation that the work is good, it’s just the plain enthusiasm and shared love. It’s the same reason you find subreddits or forums for your favorite shows and talk about it- it’s community.
I just finished listening to episode #129 of the self-publishing podcast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y8-IjSWMgM) and they talk about reasons for writing. I find myself identifying strongly with Dave- who says he likes writing, likes having written, but doesn’t like having to write. It’s a weird thought process where I know I like doing what I’m doing, and I even like doing it as I’m doing it… but making myself start is like pulling teeth.
They then go and theorize how/why Dave is like this. They mention a situation that happened to me- kids at school reading what I wrote and passing it around wanting more. It’s such an amazing feeling to get the praise and desire for your work from others. I looked forward to writing and handing it off to friends, knowing that even a teacher or two got a hold of the work and liked it. I went to different classes as fast as I could so I could sit and talk to friends about characters and story- both mine and theirs if they were writers too. It was a little personal fandom and it was so fun.
Now I’m in my mid-20s, out of college, with little to no social circle to speak of. So I write my work and I like it, I’m proud of it, but who do I have to share this with? I’ve tried to find ‘writer-friends’ online but it doesn’t seem to work that well anymore. Writers just end up talking about their own work, wanting to push it to others. I get that, hell I’ve done the exact same- but it’s more of a business/work deal than a sharing-with-friends.
Oh there’s lots of general encouraging writer-stuff everywhere, but who is going to be excited that I worked through a plot problem? That I found out the specific name I gave a character has a deeper meaning that ties into the story?
For instance: I learned that ‘Spade’, the Italian suit that corresponds to our Spades, means literally Swords (plural). It’s also a feminine noun (most languages give a gender to things while English does not). Given that the Italian suits in Clandestina signify the Margrave station (which I used instead of the French Marquis on purpose because it signifies border-lands, and it has ‘grave’ in the name) I took this more literally. So in Piques there isn’t just the Margrave Spade and his wife, but several women who are known as the Ladies of Swords.
It’s a small thing, and while the characters play important parts, figuring out that background and working from it is trivia-y. But it’s cool! It’s something a fan would smile about. It’s something I want to tell people and get a ‘Oh, awesome!’ reply, instead of adding it into the book to read like an etymology lesson.
I had this idea last evening that I would start talking about my work, writing short scenes that may or may not end up in the books proper, talk inspiration and background information on my blog. The scenes I might put up on deviantART as well. I don’t know if this sort of thing will ruin or enhance the books, I’d hope the latter. People do seem to like spoilers and trailers for that reason- getting a taste is tempting.
I’m still not entirely sure I’ll do it, but it does seem like a good way to start up the friendly-community chatter that I used to like. Maybe someone’ll will Like something, or comment, and connections will grow from there.