Wednesday, August 14, 2002

During the last week, seeing responses to both my post and watching other discussions, I've realized something about writers, word counts, and meeting personal goals that really hadn't sunk in before. It doesn't matter how often you say 'this works for me,' someone is going to come along and tell you why you are not doing it right -- because that's not how it would work for them. Not all the writers, of course. Many of them understand perfectly well that we are all individuals, and that just because one of us does well listening to soothing nature sounds while he writes, doesn't mean that others won't do well listening to people pounding tin cans together.

I have always told people that how I write is not going to work for most of them. Most writers have full time jobs, families, and other commitments. I have a wonderful husband who thinks I should write, a few cats, and because of some serious back problems, not much else for other work. So I get to do the one thing that I absolutely love. I get to write. Sometimes I write well. Sometimes I write utter drek that ends up cut in the next rewrite... if it ever gets to another rewrite. But the big, important thing is to remember that one writer's approach is not going to work for everyone else. That's good. That's important. You cannot force writers into a mold any more than you can force any other artistic group into one.

And the same goes for writing communities. A number of people have dropped out of Forward Motion because it didn't work for them. Some, rather than admitting that this wasn't the place that could help them with their writing, spend their time telling others how bad the site is for writers. And that's sad, really -- and pathetic, in some ways. 'I couldn't fit in, so they have to be wrong.'

I thought, at least with a few of them, that they had just gotten worn down, and that real life had brought such pressure that they found the most convenient target -- the one that they knew wasn't going to cause them any lasting harm if they lashed out at it. Which is also sad, because in all of these cases, the people at Forward Motion had offered nothing but support and encouragement for their work -- and would have offered any other help they could have, if the person needed it. (Others at the site have learned this, when they were in serious need.)

Like writing every day, or writing huge numbers of words, or creating the perfect words, or making certain you have the proper music and the light is just the right color ... or any other 'this is the way to do it' advice, Forward Motion will not help everyone. Some people will learn from the site and move on, as many people already have. Some of us will remain and offer what help we can, encourage others to do the best they can, and do what we can to help new writers.

That's what Forward Motion is about, and anyone who thinks that we're trying to turn out writers who only work in one way, or who only write a certain type of material, should really look at the works of those who are associated with the site.

We all work in different ways. And while some of us can offer help to others, and are willing to do so at places like Forward Motion, others will not have the time, ability or inclination. Some new writers will look for places where they can slip in, ask questions, join in conversations and fun that only writers would enjoy. Others will work far better without those distractions.

There is no right way, and there is no wrong way, but there should be, at least, a sense of understanding.

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