The Solitary Act

There’s a myth that writing is a solitary act.  Sure, sitting down and putting words on a page is something we do alone, but the influences of other people on my writing are legion.

I was recently asked my opinion on fan fic.  Specifically, the interviewer wanted to know if I worried that my writing of a character would change as a result of reading someone else’s version.  My answer was that I didn’t really worry about it because I’m constantly writing under the influence of other people, whether they fic my universe or not.

For instance, Amazon.com reviews.  I read mine.  There was one in particular that I know affected my writing.  The reader accused me of being anti-Catholic, and I spent a lot of time considering the points she made.  When I sat down to write the next book, I had those comments hovering in the back of my mind.

Our published work is open for scrutiny and commentary, and I think most authors, consciously or not, engage in a dialogue with their reading public.

Maybe this scares some people.  There exists, after all, this sense that an “artist’s vision” should remain inviolable.  We shouldn’t let any outside pressures sully the purity of our message or whatever.  For me, my entire writing process is a fairly public event.

First, during the outlining process, there’s my partner.  She and I do a lot of brainstorming, and then she also has to put up with all the blow-by-blow commentary I inflict on her as I’m writing the beast.  Her comments are always listened to, even when I don’t like them (because she’s right and it means a lot of revision on my part.)

I’m also part of a writers’ critique group, and that means I have to put up with the opinions of seven other writers about my character, plot, writing style — everything.  And, I can’t imagine writing any other way.  I’d be a poorer writer without all this interference, in fact.

Solitary, huh.  Not me.

What about you?  Who messes with the purity your artistic vision?

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  1. 1. Marie Brennan

    I’ll have to think about this some more, but the clearest instance I can remember of a review affecting my writing was one of either Doppelganger or Warrior and Witch, where the reviewer said I overused italics in dialogue. S/he was right, and I’ve worked on reducing that since.

  2. 2. SarahP

    “…the purity of your artistic vision…”

    Like you, I don’t have a pure artistic vision. I sort-of scoff at the idea of a pure artistic vision. The pure part, and the artistic part, and the vision part.

    I do the writing, but I sure don’t do it in a vacuum. I have crit partners (but not a partner who crits), an agent, an editor, and readerly expectations to satisfy (not to confound). The process is not pure, not artistic, and not visionary…

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Lyda Morehouse

Lyda Morehouse is the author of the science fiction AngeLINK series. She's won the Shamus and the Philip K. Dick Special Citation for Excellence (aka 2nd place). Her books have also been nominated for the Romantic Times Critics' Choice and preliminary Nebula ballot. She lives in the deep-freeze of Saint Paul, MN with her partner of twenty-odd years, their son, and lots and lots of cats (and fish!) Visit site.

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