If you want to be a writer ...

Workshop!

Every so often when I'm teaching, I have the sad realisation that one of my students has been working away for years on a novel, or a trilogy, or an opera cycle; all alone, like the mythical writer in the mythical garrett.

It's usually a disaster of mythic proportions. Not because they're not a good writer, but because for several years they've been building an edifice that nobody has looked at. They've got no idea how their structure fits into the landscape of literature. They've built it to fit themselves and they've never stopped to wonder how comfortable others will be with it.

I bare my fiction at http://www.zoetrope.com

The point of a writing community, or workshop, or critique group, or whatever it might be called - is to force a writer to expose his or her writing to the friction of readership. This is not always a pleasant experience and if you are happy to write without wishing for readers, there's no reason to endure it.

But if you want to be read, you have to bring your words and the world together at some point. Better to do that in a community of your peers than to open your creation for the first time to the fast-moving, uncaring, cynical world of publishing.

Seriously - if you want to be a writer, you have to accept criticism and remember that there is no law that says people must read your work. These lessons are best learnt in private.

If you want to write - learn to workshop.