I attended a local writers group last night. I am venturing out more because my publisher suggested that I connect with other writers in my area to net work because that will be helpful when I launch my new book, in a few months. The meeting I attended last night was quite informative and yet I came away feeling a bit disconcerted.
During the meeting other writers brought in portions of their work and each writer had a set time to read their work out loud and then the other writers had the chance to critique the work. That was all fine until I noticed how nit-picky some writers were. At times when I felt that what the writer had presented was superb, other writers had a huge difference of opinion from mine. I actually came away feeling a bit bored by all of it. Suddenly I felt as if I was back in school and there went my joy of the writing craft.
John Steinbeck once said that going to school will ruin a great writer. I agree with the man who tried going to college only to never earn a degree. Amazingly after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, he feared that such an honor usually meant the end of a writer’s career.
Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.
The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
I also recently read an article that stated that Leo Tolstoy, who wrote WAR and PEACE rewrote that same book 8 different times. I am flabbergasted. Was that really necessary or did he battle with OCD?
Could it be that in all the nit-picking that other writers do, they end up destroying some of their best work? I would like to hear some of your thoughts on this, so please feel free to comment.
I have not decided whether I’m going to join the local writers group. I did enjoy meeting up with a couple of fellow writers who, based on our conversation, seemed more in touch with reality. Maybe I’ll just keep my options open and I’ll just drop in on a meeting now and then. I don’t want to join a group where I sense their passion for the craft has grown a bit stale, because I wouldn’t ever want that to rub off on me. It’s already tough being a writer, let alone having to stave off the negative energy of writers more seasoned than me. Writing has always been such a life source for me that I don’t want anyone to dampen it .
-EVA SANTIAGO copyright 2012