Joe’s Post #26 — Honestly, I don’t know how a writer writes completely alone. To brainstorm a story from a drunken, slurred idea to a completed novel without help? To somehow know what’s good and what’s not, what works and what doesn’t without feedback? To slave away hour after hour while there’s a Buffy rerun on TV without some sort of moral support? I just don’t see how it’s possible.
For me, I know my stories are better when I can brainstorm a bit with someone. You know, hammer out the kinks and kinkiness, make a great character even greater, make sure the plot is actually a plot and not just a collection of clever jokes. Right now, I don’t have that person and I think my YA story suffered for it. Well, ‘suffered’ may be a bit harsh, but it’ll definitely have to go through another HUGE rewrite before getting sent out.
I may need to put an ad on Craigslist. Wanted: Brainstormer. Must have brains. Must understand Buffy references. Must be able to talk knowledgeably for hours and hours and hours about stories and writing. Must be able to explain why 50 Shades of Grey is a best-seller. Must be willing to buy the beer.
As to what’s good and all, I’m well served there. I have a couple of first readers – who are nothing short of brilliant – and a wise (and honest) critique group. But I also rely on a lot of other outside sources. Not to look at my work, but to make me think about writing in a different way. Books on writing. E-articles. Magazines. We’ve posted a lot of links on our blogs so you’ll probably understand what I mean. But make no mistake, you can get some pretty amazing ideas by looking to people who’ve already made it, who’ve already written that best seller and who are willing to tell us how they did it. I mean seriously, who would not want to read On Writing by Stephen freaking King?
Then there’s keeping the morale up. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a muddy trench, my feet are wet, my gun is jammed and the Germans are lobbing shells at me. But, here, too, I am well served with friends who’ll take off the ledge or bolster my belief in myself when it falters or tell me to stop using WW1 references that no one gets. However, I also rely on other outside sources.
Check out what Josh Whedon, one of my writing heroes, had to say (from Writer’s Digest.) It’s sort of along the lines of Why Write?
So, if you’re a writer out there who does it all alone, my hat is off to you. If you’re me, you need a village to write a book that everyone will want to read.