Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writing fiction. A social project?

Writer Abroad is reading a great book called Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s about how our current world is built for extroverts. Study a few job descriptions—at least in the US—and you’ll see that most jobs want us to be super enthusiastic, real go-getters, and team players.

You’ll even see these qualities desired in jobs for…gulp, writers.

It’s true. In many writing jobs Writer Abroad has held, she’s had to brainstorm in big groups, try to write something while a team critiques it, or compose headlines out-loud in front of people.

Cringing yet, fellow writer introverts?

Group work does not bring out the best in writers, at least for most writers Writer Abroad knows—including herself. In fact, she knows that writing collaboration hinders her work. She would much prefer to hide in a corner and write. Alone. Without having to act enthusiastic about it.

So what happens to us writer introverts when a new technology comes along that makes writing a social project? A start-up in Toronto, called Wattpad, is both fascinating and frightening to Writer Abroad.

Wattpad is a social network of readers and writers. It has over 2 million writers and 20 million readers. When writers upload something, comments about their work are posted within seconds from readers. Writers often post stories or chapters on the fly and then delete them just as fast. It’s reading and writing for a world with ADD. And it’s working.

What will this do for traditional publishing—let alone the e-book world as it is today? Will the next popular authors go from being traditional introverts to risk-taking, quick posting extroverts? Or is writing for the Internet, with a screen in front of us and not a person, completely different and actually beneficial for writer introverts?

Only time and technology will tell.

Do you use Wattpad either as a reader or writer? If so, what is your experience with it?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Writing residency on a train, anyone?

Writer Abroad (usually) loves writing on trains. That is, if she has the right seat (not next to a cell phone talker or a toddler—especially her own) and has remembered her noise-cancelling headphones and laptop.

Photo by Brian Opyd
Now, there’s a perfect writing residency for writers who like to travel, which probably includes all writers living abroad.

Also, these residencies are open to anyone.

Here’s the deal. Applications will soon be opening for Amtrak’s Free Writer Residencies. Writers can receive a two to five day round-trip journey that includes a private sleeper car and a desk on most routes across the United States. Up to 24 writers will be selected.

If you’re concerned about the commercial nature of this residency, The New Yorker has a nice piece debating whether there is a conflict of interest between a commercial entity like Amtrak who may require its writers to write, tweet, or blog about their residency.

But really, if you look at the history of the arts, we wouldn’t have Mozart or Handel or most of Western Civilization’s greatest music if not for patrons. So from that standpoint, Writer Abroad says, apply to Amtrak!


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