Just got back from Balticon on Monday, and I was thinking about the wonderfully various array of activities and people, and what a great experience it is for a writer to get out and mingle.
And that led me to think that there’s a missing part to the standard exhortation “To be a writer, you must write.”
It makes more sense to say, “You must write and you must be read.” Writing is communication, and communication doesn’t happen until the message has been received by someone, who then responds. It’s a conversation.
“Write and be read” is only half of a conversation, the sending-forth part. “Read and listen” is the other part, where you receive, think about, and react to others’ ideas. If you speak or write without listening or reading, you’re only communicating with yourself. The writer and what is written both need to interact with other writers and other texts.
There is a social side of writing, which is why we gather. Balticon and the other cons aren’t the only ways that a writer can socialize. There are writing groups, too. They focus on the writing. But cons bring together the greater community — writers, editors, artists, agents, readers, fans — all of whose voices make up a larger conversation.
[Oddly, “social media” is weak in this respect, usually being declamation rather than conversation.]
I think that there is a connection between a writer who is social and a writer who is read. First of all, at cons you meet people who become curious about your writing, and you may also find sources of new ideas. But on another level, when you meet and listen to other writers, you and your writing are out there in the world, impacting and colliding with all those other writers and their ideas, getting stronger and gaining confidence.
Join the conversation.