A few months ago I was chatting to a fellow blogger, who suggested we “hang out and blog together”. They thought it might be motivating to have a real life blogging buddy; not someone who could encourage from afar with the occasional tweet of “you can do it babes!” and remind us to post at least once a week. She wanted to *shudder* sit in a room with me and write. I didn’t know her particularly well, so I figured it was one of those offhand comments that no one ever follows up on. I just nodded noncommittally and changed the subject to cats.
It got me thinking, why did I respond to communal writing with such revulsion? It’s not that I don’t work well with others, I can even be a team player sometimes. I’m an outwardly extroverted introvert who often struggles with social situations. But writing? Actually sitting down to put words to paper? That’s my time. It’s something I categorically do alone, and only my very best friends have ever read anything I haven’t felt ready to publish on my blog.
Years ago I started writing fanfic on Livejournal, and the term “beta” kept cropping up. For those who are now figuratively looking at me like I’ve grown a second head, a beta is someone who edits your fic after your first draft. Your beta is long-suffering; they’ll read and reread chapters of your fic, checking not only for spelling and grammar, but also characterisation and flow. When I first was on the market for a beta, I tiptoed onto the Veronica Mars fic page with the kind of nervousness some reserve for a first date or a job interview. I knew I needed a beta, I knew I wanted one, but damned if I felt comfortable having one.
My general fear of failure and my issues with anxiety make me the kind of person who doesn’t like to show their cards until I am 100%. This has led to blog posts that I *could* have written in an evening taking a week, or even longer. One thing that really helped me was doing #BEDM and blogging every day in May, but there were a few times my anxiety nearly took over that month!
When I write, I like to do it alone. I like to take my time doing it and I’ll read and reread out loud until it sounds right. To me. I used to be a political speech writer, and it’s a habit that has stuck with me ever since.
I love the moments after I’ve finished a near-final draft, when I’ve turned my background music off and my phone onto silent. I’ll start to read out loud, under my breath at first but with a bit more confidence with every paragraph. Sometimes I’ll stop, change a word that doesn’t sound right, and start again from the beginning. I’ll make myself another cup of tea. Maybe put on a jumper, because by this point it will be 2am and the flat is suddenly cold.
There are a million and one things I like to do with company, such as go for walks or watch a film, but writing is my alone time. So I won’t be joining anyone for a group blogging sesh anytime soon, and I probably won’t ever show anyone what I’m writing until I’m ready to click on that little “POST” icon.
I will be sitting here, at my desk at 2am, writing.