Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writing in Community and Other Acts of Collaboration

I've been thinking a lot about writing in community and other acts of collaboration lately.

As I've mentioned a time or two, I've been struggling with writing lately.  It's not that I don't want to write.  That, as I long suspected about myself, will never be a problem.  I may, in fact, be writing more now than I ever did under contract.

It's more that I find myself drawn to certain kinds of writing over others.

The kinds of writing I've been drawn to lately could be generally classified as 'writing in community.' Fan fiction is one of these because, depending on how many people are active in your fandom, you can get a lot of interaction with your work in the form of comments and kudos.  I've enjoyed writing like this because it takes me away from a particular outline and really frees up my Muse to include other people--their opinions, their criticisms, and, yes, even their ideas.

This is actually not new for me.  Not in the least.

As the Wyrdsmiths well know, I've always been the kind of writer who benefits from having a community invested in my work.  One of the reasons I started Wyrdsmiths is that I get a huge boost interacting with readers, and fellow-writers are the very best kind of readers.  Wyrdsmiths critique sessions can include all the things I get from fan fic writing: kudos, opinions, criticism, and ideas.  The best sessions, IMHO, are the ones, in fact, where we all get so wound up about someone's chapter or story that we start riffing on, "Well, if this were *my* story, I'd..." I often leave those sessions feeling honestly kind of high on the process and excited not only about my own work, but the work of my colleagues, as well.

When Wyrdsmiths is firing on all cylinders, it's a perfect kind of writing in community for me.  But, in order for it to work its magic, I have to have product to put in front of my colleagues.

Ah, there's the rub....

So, I've been seeking community in process... or a process involving community.  One answer to finding that for me has been the project I've been doing through WattPad.  That's been working moderately well.  I think for it work the way I want, I have to invest in the community myself a bit more.  I've been complaining about not getting a lot of comments, but it's occurred to me that I haven't made a lot of time to read and comment on my fellow WattPadder's work either.  You have to give, in order to receive.  Or so I have been told.

Plus, building up that kind of community takes time.  It can, in point of fact, take YEARS.  So, while I'm frustrated with the current interaction, I have faith that time and continued effort will grow it into what I want it to be.

The other thing I've been experimenting with is honest-to-goodness collaborating.  I've been writing a serial story with my writer friend Rachel Callish wherein we actually write together in-tandem via Google Drive.  That's been wicked fun.  And, in a matter of months, we've written 50,000 words (a half of a novel, really, maybe a bit more.)  What's amazing to me about writing like that is how much fun it is for me.  I get to watch (sometimes literally, if she's typing in the Doc while I'm on-line) someone else's process and we get to do all the riffing brainstorming in instant messages.

It's funny that people like to say that writing is a solitary art.

For me, it NEVER has been.

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