Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Overthinking the Public Face

Writing is kind of a private business, with very public results. I don't know if writers are just naturally introverts, or if it's something you become after years of toiling in silence and isolation, or if writing by its nature requires a kind of introversion and self-awareness to succeed. Maybe introversion is a selector for the writer's evolutionary process. I don't know.

But it's a private task. I write books in isolation. I cut myself off from my friends, my family, my wife... I go somewhere quiet and I labor inside my head, and then I force that labor out onto the page.

The point is, it's not something you do publicly. When I write it, I'm alone. When you read it, I'm not there, and I'm not really aware that you're doing it. There's a gap in the process, you understand.

Usually, when people go to work, they're doing their work publicly. Other people are aware of your task flow, they appreciate or denigrate your effort, and when you succeed there's some public awareness of that success. You can work hard, succeed publicly, and be appreciated. There's a certain amount of pleasure to be found in being good at what you do, and having other people aware of that, and being in the presence of their awareness.

That's all very convoluted, I know. What I'm trying to say is that this is why I love conventions. Usually, I'm a write alone in my basement, or at a coffee shop, or at my kitchen table. But at a convention, I'm publicly a writer. I sit on panels, I expound wisdom or idiocy, I gather with my fellow writers and editors and publishers, and I do the things that writers do. It's a rare privilege. And while it's not writing directly, it is the most public thing that writers do. It's the face we hand to the public.

Anyway. That's why I love conventions.


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