Going out – it’s the new staying in
For this writer, at least. I try to stay away from the strictly personal in this blog, sharing J A Konrath’s view that for a blog to be useful, it should contain personal experience only where it’s useful to the reader, but on this issue, I feel the need to nail my colours to the mast.
I’m not very good at going out. I can teach, or attend meetings, or even get together with a friend for coffee, but the general social going out thing has somehow never been part of my life. I used to think it was because I grew up in a hotel and spend my teenage years living in pubs – there was never any need to go out, because home provided a complete (and often inappropriate) social life. But the last couple of years have forced me to amend that view, because I have discovered that many fiction writers are not good at going out. As a generalisation, the writers I meet are more on the reclusive than the gregarious end of the spectrum, which suggests we find our interior lives satisfying enough not to need very much external stimulus.
Well and good. But if you want to continue to grow as a writer, you have to start moving outside your own resources. It’s broadly agreed that journalists are good at grabbing what’s outside them and repackaging it, while fiction writers tend to use what’s inside them – but that simplistic view negates the value of observation and intuition in shaping our fiction. It also deprives fiction writers of exposure to new experience, fresh voices and perceptions that challenge or shade our own inner understanding.
So I made a deal with myself to go to one new place and have one new experience every month – and tonight I’m off to the Marlborough in Brighton to take part in a Queer Writers Workshop.