Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Don't Be Grotty, Be Writing

I had a grotty week a couple of weeks ago. There was all this stuff about e-publishing flying around and a lot of people were telling me either about authors who weren't having their contracts renewed, or about publishing people being sacked, or about the big name authors signing contracts for squillions, or about the market moving into historicals! crime! historical crime!

I read it all - every contradictory blog, every triumphant/despondant Tweet, every forum posting. I chatted to other writers who were hopeful/elated/suicidal. And it was the end of term and I was tired so ended up being confused and a bit hot and bothered about what I was doing. Or rather, what I wasn't doing.

Because while I was reading and blogging and Tweeting and posting on Facebook and chatting to writers and readers on line and in person, I sort of forgot what it is I actually do. Which is write.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it's easy for me to get overwhelmed by all the information out there. Perhaps other people handle it better, but there's so much going on I find it hard to draw a line between what is interesting to know and what I need to know. It's interesting to know about new developments and news (good and bad) in publishing, but do I really need to know them?

Or, to put it another way, do I need to know them more than I need to finish my novel? Umm....

So my message to myself is the title of this post: Don't be grotty, be writing.


Jim Murdoch said...

I don’t write for a living but I still think of myself as a writer and although I console/excuse myself by maintaining that I am a gestator the simple fact is that if I allowed it I could keep busy all day long pottering around the peripherals, to coin a phrase, all the things connected with being a writer that don’t actually involve any real writing. I stayed away from Facebook for three years and then a friend persuaded me to take a more active role which I did and after the first day I slunk into a blue funk and stayed there for days. It’s oppressive, this constant drip, drip, drip of information, like some virtual Chinese water torture: drip, drip, drip. And the same goes for all the blogs I subscribe to. There is no way I could read all of them. I scan them all and leave a few to read which I try and make some kind of sensible comment on but even a few lines like I’m writing just now can waste fifteen minutes easily. We can’t do everything. We can’t be everything to everyone. People will suck us dry without even realising they’re doing it if we let them. I think the worst thing we can be is nice. Being nice is crippling because if we’re not nice when it’s our nature to be nice then we get hamstrung by guilt: damned if we do and damned if we don’t. So far I’ve managed to stay clear of Twitter; I subscribe to my daughter’s feeds but that’s it.

Julia Broadbooks said...

Time spent on the internet can quickly spiral out of control, especially when some important seeming event occurs. Good for you for reminding us of what really matters.

Sarah Duncan said...

Pottering round the peripherals - you've got a nice turn of phrase Jim, have you ever thought of being a writer?

I've bought an egg timer to try to limit my internet browsing time. I haven't yet remembered to switch it on, but the intent is there.

Carey said...

I'm so glad it's not just me. I got rid of telly years ago because of its life-sapping qualities and recently deleted my Twitter account because of the same. I've recently started leaving the router switched off until evening. Result? My depression has eased, I'm getting things done, and I've rediscovered the local library. And I'm picking up an early tan due to writing in a sunny garden with a good old fashioned pencil and paper. :o)

Sarah Duncan said...

Let's hope the summer stays good so we can all perfect our tans - and the writing, of course.