TO FLOCK OR NOT TO FLOCK?
IS THAT A QUESTION?
I'll be the first to admit this entire writing thing can be devastatingly lonely. However, if writing is as much a part of your makeup as eating, sleeping, copulation, and neurosis - There's only a few remedies open. The first, of course, is to become stunningly famous and spend the rest of your life on a never ending book tour (Want to bet how long it takes for adoring fans to start becoming life sucking drains on your time and creativity?) I get it, no fans = no income. The converse is also true. Fans equal demanding crowds who never want to see you evolve or change.
So, what else is there? Alcohol and drugs? Not bad, if you can find the balance between inebriation and creativity. Not to mention all the brilliant young careers, and lives, ended in a stupor. Of course, you could turn out to be the next Charles Bukowski and make eighty proof self-abuse into a genre. But the odds aren't with you, take it from a non-practicing alcoholic. (Then again, I was never really a practicing one. No practice necessary. I had it down coming out of the gate.)
You could throw in the towel. If you're like me you stand in front of the bathroom mirror first thing in the morning wondering, "What's the fucking sense?" An hour later, and a couple of cups of coffee, I'm in front of this damned keyboard - Write, revise, submit, rewrite, revise, submit. It's what you do. PERIOD!
There's another route. The 'Writers Group'. As they used to say, "Here there be monsters". Not all groups are the same, just as all writers aren't. With the Internet there sprang up any number of groups. I don't know about you, but the whole faceless entity judging my work from afar, robbing me of the opportunity to choke the life out of some bastard I'd reached an impasse with just doesn't play.
There are, of course, long running local writers groups. The ones that are dominated by either memoir writers or those devoted to illustrated children's books. The first generally turns out to be people committed to leaving a written record of their existence to their great grand kids. The second, well - I'll leave that one alone.
Lately I've run aground on the shores of 'Meet Up'. Again, I urge caution. Being the only entity in the room sporting gonads I immediately wondered after my sanity. When the main pursuit of the other faction turned out to be fantasy novels they've been working on far too long I definitely got the feeling I'd slid a bit over the edge of the map. Not that you can't get something out of any critique done with sincerity and candor, but sometimes gender warfare is camouflaged beneath the most pleasant of approaches.
I'm nostalgic for an earlier time. One when writers got together with one another through a shared mutual appreciation and knowledge of each others work. When we pushed one another for originality of subject, plot, and language. Before the entire world thought it was going to conquer the literati fortress with self-publication. I'd ask for honesty in that also, but I'd rather not be implicated in some inadequate sot's suicide.
What's my point? If you must have companionship, exert the same discretion you would choosing a puppy. Preferably pick one with some training and a bit of pedigree. Not a thoroughbred, but one that won't piss in your shoe, eat your lunch, and keep you up all night with its whining. Find that one you can spend a lazy day walking down the local rail line and splitting a beer with. (Yes, I have unabashedly contributed to the substance abuse of a canine.) Find the kind of companion who will help you dig an escape route under whatever fence you find yourself stuck behind. The one who knows where the free eats are and the occasional bitch in heat.
If you really feel out of place in a group, duff it and move on. Better morose and lonesome in front of a typewriter than listening to inane drivel you have utterly no interest in. Above all remember, if you write for any reason other than you simply have to write, you're a god-damned liar. Any really good endeavor should cause you great discomfort south of your navel before it lifts you to the stars.
Then, get up tomorrow morning, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, "What's the fucking sense?"
That out of the way, GET TO WORK!