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The Garret Syndrome
The Garret Syndrome
The image of an artist - painter, poet, writer - shut away in self-imposed isolation to work their creative magic is a rather idealised picture. Yes, it happens to an extent, we all need time and space without distractions. On the other hand, the chance and the need to interact with people who share the same interests can't be overlooked. This probably explains why FaceBook and other social media have risen so quickly. If you're in a home situation where there's no one with whom you can freely discuss plot/character/writing hangups, those wider connections are doubly valuable whether they are online or in the Real World.
Being a writer, having that drive to put down on paper or screen the stories and people populating your head, can result in a logjam of ideas, or that stalling moment when you haven't a clue where you're going next despite having the storyline carefully plotted out. That's when you need the connection with others who understand the writerly mind. Sometimes an email or an online chat will do the trick. Sometimes you need that Real Life meeting with a couple of fellow writers over a drink or two of the beverages of your choice to simply talk writerly things, share ideas and experiences. More often than not you'll come away refreshed and newly inspired, and perhaps with a new slant on the current problem.
The larger get-togethers work as well, whether it's a workshop scenario, a collective book-signing event, or a full-blown conference spread over a weekend. The important thing is that connection, knowing you're among people who have the same interests, shared similar situations, know where you're coming from just as you understand them. And then there's the fact that the people you meet at the various places are welcoming, supportive, always ready to offer a helping hand and a listening ear.
Needless to say, the above remarks refer to *all* genres of writing, but perhaps those of us who write in the GLBTQ spectrum need them more than others.
A few of the publishers run Writers' Workshops, or Authors' Retreats, often over a weekend. In the UK, Manifold Press is having one for its stable of authors next spring, and I'm looking forward for a few days of uninterrupted writing and discussions on plots, characters, and anything else that fires our imaginations at the time. RJ Scott, of Love Lane Books, is also planning a second Retreat next year.
Larger events happen in the UK, the US and Europe - and probably other countries as well, but below are the ones I know of for certain.
Here in the UK, there's the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet. http://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/ It's small compared to its American counterparts, with attendance capped at 150 delegates. This means it's possibly more intimate than very large conventions, and, from my experience, it's a great chance to meet and socialise as well as attend panels, invaluable workshops, and have one-to-one chats with your favourite authors and cover artists.
A new venture is the Meet The Authors Booksigning events being organised by Sue Brown. The first one was held this year near Liverpool Street Station in London. It was a runaway success and we all had a blast. That afternoon about twenty authors attended, and many, many readers. There were readings, book-signing and buying, much talking, eating and drinking. The link is to the Facebook page set up by Sue, and next year's event is in the planning stages. https://www.facebook.com/events/478879022255681/
Over the Pond in America, there are two big conferences that I know of; the biggest is the GayRomLit Retreat. It is huge, people, and hosted in a different city each year. http://www.gayromlit.com/. Then there's the smaller RainbowCon, now in its second year and planning for 2015 http://www.rainbowconference.org/
On the other side of the planet is Queermance Australia. Their next extravaganza is 7PM Friday 17th April 2015 – Sunday 19th April 2015. Queermance 2015 is a celebration of GLBT relationships in fiction. It is a chance to catch up with the authors and publishers of GLBT fiction, pick up tips, find opportunities and ask all the questions you always wanted an answer to but didn’t know who can answer them.http://www.queermance.com.au/
Nearer to home in Germany, Marc Fleischauer of the Rainbow Gold Reviews LGBT Blog is busily organising an event in Munich next year - here's what he told me... It will be July 10-12 in Munich. The event hotels will be the Sheraton and Westin Grand Arabellapark. We are very close to signing, but there were some details that we have to figure out. We figured out that the reduced hotel prices for the event are much more expensive than getting them on the website and so we have to figure that out. Everything else is planned. It will be called the Euro Pride Meet and we will include some cultural experiences like going to the Pride Parade in Munich and invite some German publishers interested in acquiring rights of translations to English M/M and LGBT stories. It sounds as if it'll be a wonderful event, so keep your eyes on this link http://rainbowgoldreviews.wordpress.com/
When it comes down to it, the trick is not to feel obliged to be alone, but to choose to be isolated in your writerly garret, knowing that when you need them there's someone ready to be there for you just as you will be ready to be there in turn.
[Edited to correct the maximum capacity of UK Meet, which is actually 150.]