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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-09-25 05:43
Subject: [process|personal] Talking out of my yinyang
Security: Public
Location:the couch next to a sleeping Child
Mood:sandy eyed
Music:her slightly phlegmy breathing
Tags:personal, process, writing
As mentioned here, I promised garyomaha an answer to the question he asked here.
You, sir, are one of the most engaging, outgoing, effervescent, extroverted persons we know. You revel in being with folks, meeting new folks, interacting with folks.

And yet...

Your choice of (a)vocation is writing. Is this not one of the most solitary tasks one can do? Indeed, isn't the recipient of your good works -- the reader -- also a most solitary of tasks?

So, does this show the "yin and yang" of
jaylake? Or a dual personality? Or some deep-seated need to be both alone and together with others?

Writing is profoundly solitary, but writing can also be the biggest bandstand in the world. How many people have the greats of literary history or the bestsellers of today reached? Not that I'm comparing myself to Dickens or Dick either one. Likewise durability. We're still paying attention to Homer, but most people don't know who Walter Cronkite was any more, let alone Walter Winchell.

This is a practice which starts as solitary as one can imagine, much as you suggest. With time and practice, one's head fills with characters. One's life eventually acquires readers through friends, family, classrooms and critique. One's work eventually acquires more readers and soon you are amid a crowd at all times. Characters come to me in dreams, whisper over my shoulder, mutter dark imprecations at their fate. People recognize me on the street occasionally, read my blog here, write me emails.

You're right, it's a yin and a yang. Like the Oriental symbol, each state contains the seeds of the other. Being out amongst the people fertilizes my writing. Writing gives me something else to carry back to the world at large.

This is the ultimate job for the extrovert, as long as they're not an obligatory extrovert. My secret of course is that I am a radically overcompensated introvert.
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Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2007-09-25 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks...interesting response. So, in effect you hear voices all the time. :) Some people take meds to avoid that.

>>People recognize me on the street occasionally<<

And suddenly I got this thought -- it's the shirts, must be the shirts. So, always carry a plain shirt around with you so that you can change into "Clark Kent" when you don't want to be recognized.
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Mister Eclectic
User: howeird
Date: 2007-09-25 16:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Writing is profoundly solitary
The way most writers work in America today, yes. But it doesn't have to be. Some of my first writing experiences were sitting down with my sister, inventing spoofs of Poe and Verne and then branching out to our own original stuff. Two heads are better than one, and in this case also more warped.

One of my favorite classes in Radio/TV production was sitcom script writing - anywhere between three and six of us would get together and brainstorm, and it was tons of fun, social, and sometimes the writing turned out to be almost as funny to the audience as it was to us. Bear in mind we were all under legal drinking age and this took place in a classroom, so we were uninfluenced rather than under the influence.

And there is a lot of collaboration out there - Pournelle and Niven, The Three B's, Woodward and Bernstein, Mccaffrey and practically everyone.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2007-09-25 19:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Can't speak for anyone else, but I always figured that one reason I tend to be so extroverted is because I've spent so much time doing the solitary writing thing much of the rest of the time.
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The Green Knight: Writing
User: green_knight
Date: 2007-09-25 20:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had the image of the writer in the garrett when I started out, but in reality, I can't think of many books that are created that way. Most writers get together with friends and talk about writing, whether online, in coffeeshops, or at cons, agents and editors read stuff and contribute. Open the average novel and see how many people are thanked as having made a difference to it - I can think of (and have done) a lot of jobs that are far more solitary than writing.
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