Monday, March 18, 2013

Write with the Door Closed; Edit with it Open

artwork by Serena Barton

Write with the door closed and edit with it opened was one piece of advice from Stephen King in "On Writing."

That seems like reasonable and sound advice. He said this at several points throughout the book, with examples and reasons and it was solid.

His point was to write your book without letting it be interrupted or unduly influenced by outsiders. Not just by people who would steal your time, intentionally or untintentionally, but also by the do-gooders who are trying to help or have advice or want just a peek. Set up your writing time and treat it as sacred, as your time to show up so your muse knows where to find you. Just you, the page, the muse.

I like that idea.

Yet I also wrestle with it. Some of my best writing has been "in public." Not that I was the center of attention, but I was with other people. Sometimes it is with other writers - would that be a gaggle, a murder, a flock? I don't know. Sometimes it's just me in a public space, usually a cafe of some sort, writing.

I understand that keeping things close to me. I understand keeping to my writing and not letting others spoil the process and potentially the "product."

But I do wonder about the hibernation aspect to writing. And, while it is an approach which has obviously worked really well for Stephen King, I wonder if it is necessary or if it is just one good idea. No; I do think it can be a great thing to do, the door shut/open model, and I believe that there are other valid options.

One example which came to mind as I was listening to him read his book this time around (I read the paper version not long after it came out) was my experience Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen. That was so opposite of the shut door writing model. And it worked; most of the time. King talked specifically about the writing in groups/classes/MFAs and one criticism was the need to write something out quickly and then, how good, really, was the feedback? The Lit Kitchen was pretty open door in the writing process and some of it was put out there raw for others to read; although there was a different type and level of feedback on the raw material or the little bit more worked material. But, still, an open door policy.

I wonder if there is tendency toward a gender difference? Of writing in community and sharing the still pink on the edges material? Although there have been males participating in the Lit Kitchen.

I wonder what other writers think about the writing=closed door vs editing=open door advice?

I wonder if solitude is required? Or when is it required?

I wonder when other writers might want to write in solitude? Or in community? Or solo in the midst of life happening?

Just thoughts. No answers. And questions.

Do you like to write alone? Always or when, if the answer is "sometimes."