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In lieu of Judith Tarr's article on BVC (book view café) about the League of Shattered Authors, a few things the lady said struck a chord or two.
A few years back I was a member of the OWW - Online writing workshop for science fiction and fantasy. That time was vibrant with expectancy. People had real hope of being traditionally published and were. Because most times people were honest in their critiques and enthusiastic about one another's work. We literally waited with bated breath for the next installment/chapter of our fellows' novels. Didn't matter if they were first draft or third. People like Carlos Cortes, Ilona Andrews, Elizabeth Bear, to name but a few. But, goddammit, we had fun! OWW was the first site I'd click on to to see if I had a fresh review, good or bad or indifferent. You longed and dreaded to get picked for the 'editors choice'. You strived for that recognition.
It began to change gradually with the advent of folk who, didn't truly want their work critiqued, they wanted 'five stars' to get noticed, never mind the quality. Which is a reflection of today's Amazon market. In some cases honesty has gone out the window because of 'marketing'.
In BVCs case a band of writers got together and created their own site and own company. They stuck together. Some good names there like Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr, Katherine Kerr, Linda Nagata etc. People who are wonderful writers, who because of number crunchers can't always make a go of it in 'traditional'.
Practically, of course numbers make money, and publishing is a business like any other. But not all writers want to be in the spotlight. Not all writers want to stand from the crowd and wave their banners. 
There is a great camaraderie between writers. They write because there is something within them that must be written, and really they don't care about the format as long as they are read. We all like to make money, of course! But mostly that is so we can stay home and write instead of having to have super powers to work, run a home and family as well as write. Very, very few can give up the day job, believe me. But we still do it. We wake up early or sleep late. We snatch moments between mowing the lawn and changing diapers. We balance what is within our heads and the very real characters there and those we love who truly are real. And unless you write yourself, very few understand. I'm not sure I always do. Ego rarely comes into it except, naturally, I adore it when people enjoy what I write.
So we do it and we jump through all these blessed hoops to get our work out there as the whole publishing industry changes around us. And we still do it. While we are not exactly in the same league as 'Band of Brothers', we stick together through thick and thin. I can name six people without even thinking - Elizabeth Hull (CN Lesley), Crash Froelich, Jeanne Haskin, Michael Merriam, Patty Jansen, Linda Steele, Moi, who still write, who are published, even if it is not 'traditional' and we still support one another even if it is with a simple 'like', and those are but a few of the wonderful people I have met through writing. A community for sure.
Some days we feel like we are banging our heads against the proverbial wall, but we still do it, and no doubt we will do it as long as we can. Because really there isn't much choice.

 


Comments

Linda Steele
06/11/2013 10:20am

Thanks for mentioning me above. :) It's true, I do feel an indelible bond with my writing friends who are in it for the love. Because gosh I love writing! I was talking with a fellow writer just yesterday about this very topic. We came to the conclusion we are dinosaurs because we don't churn out seven books or more a year and spend all our time hawking them. I'm not quite sure how other writers do it, to be honest. But if I can write my two or three books a year, and if there are publishers out there eager to publish them, and people out there waiting to read them, that's my happy place. It took moving away from pursing agents and traditional publishers to get there, but I'm there and it's wonderful. The world looks very different when it's about having work out there instead of always feeling inadequate, which is what years of critiques and queries made me feel. I lost my joy in writing for a bit there. But I never really stopped and I did get the love back when I started finding readers who love my work. Also, it's great to see so many of my friends finding success! I buy all their books. :D

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Susan
06/11/2013 10:39am

I know some people can do it - churn out books - but when does that become a chore instead of a passion? Yes, critiques can do that to you. Someone always manages to find fault even when there isn't any, just for the sake of 'saying' something. The inner joy, for me, comes with the slowish creation of the characters and stories. When something clicks and comes together as a whole. A lot of thinking goes into that, and although we all have different processes and strengths and weaknesses, the entirety of a novel is such a creation of beauty, no matter what we are writing. *We* do that and it is something to be proud of. Often I put myself down too much instead of believing. I think it is why people so desperately need/want reviews. That affirmation. Marketing has turned reviews into 'popularity', I still see them as a joy that people have read. I know, I know, I should push for more so that others can find the books and read them, too, and I do on occasion. I often just feel I should place a message on the winds like my hyatu do - just enjoy :)

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06/11/2013 8:42pm

OWW could also be soul-crushing for a writer like me, who didn't want to concentrate on cutting edge short fiction. :) But I do remember it fondly.

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Susan Elizabeth Curnow
06/11/2013 9:06pm

Yes, and in some ways that happened to me, but in another the experience prepared me for so much more. So, swings and roundabouts. I do miss the interaction. I have never liked writing in a vacuum and certainly miss the friendly critique where someone might say - what the hell were you thinking? But in a nice way that made you go back and think, yeah, heh, ooh, could have done that better. Like a good editor might. But I do so miss the people! Like you!

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