I joined an online writers’ group She Writes a few months ago and have been on the fence about its value. Should it inspire? Connect? Console? Instruct? Promote?
Membership is diverse. Women working with major publishers. Women working at the kitchen table while the baby sleeps, aiming to be the next JK Rowling. Women working through deep sorrows that need sharing. Women with advanced degrees in writing, self-propelled amateurs and ambitious students. More than 9000 members… who knew so many women were out there scribbling away.
Because we’re all good girls (with products to sell, advice to solicit, and completed chapters to celebrate) we’re polite. But it’s all pretty shallow too. Everyone has read up on the value of online social networking and are busy building their “author platform” (website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, video book trailer, guest blogging, etc.). The overall feel is very much about self-promotion. But I can’t be too critical, can I, because I’m right out there singing in the me-me-me chorus.
Still, I have this fantasy that writers’ groups should be about writing… no, no, not about good opening sentences or how many words a day (I joined one of those over at Goodreads and got bored fast) — but about Art, Philosophy, Movements, and Changing The World. And of course genuine friendship, even if laced with rivalry and the occasional feud. (Algonquin Roundtable, Bloomsbury Group, all those Paris expats, the Beats, etc.)
(Damn, this entry wasn’t at all what I meant it to be about. Ok, more later…)