Today I went to the first in what I hope will be a series of “indie bookshop crawls,” in Totnes, Devon. While there, I was talking to a fellow Plymothian (during which conversation it emerged that the collective noun for Plymothians is “an excellence.” Okay, I might have made that up…) who was asking me who I knew, and which clubs and reading nights I frequented. I had to admit to not taking part in many at all, and explained that, because I work full-time, the weekends and days off I do get, I have to spend writing as opposed to talking about writing.
Which led me to ponder, on the way home; how much time should we spend at open-mic nights, readings, groups, etc? Are we doing ourselves a disservice if we shun 90% of these, in favour of actually writing? Does it make a difference that our agent is calling for 40k words towards our new novel a.s.a.p, or is that only an excuse?
I’m finding it hard striking a balance between trying to mingle with other writers –getting myself known locally, and spending time listening to their work–and actually nailing those damned words to the page. I was met with a surprised look today, when I said I hadn’t been to such-and-such a group, didn’t know this or that person, and didn’t really get out to many of these reading groups, but then the person to whom I was talking said he’d be lucky to get 40 thousand words out in a year.
With so much writing time already taken up with marketing online, preparing and posting updates and tweets, learning from other writers in Facebook groups, updating the website, and generally scattering myself all over Facebook in the hopes of scoring a couple of extra sales, can I really afford to take time out to sit in a room and listen to poems and short stories, in order not to be seen as distancing myself?
Where’s that balance, and how do I avoid coming over as aloof and/or non-committed if I ultimately come down on the side of producing work instead of talking about it?
Answers on a postcard please… or in the comments here or on Facebook 🙂