So I’ve just joined Quilliant.com. It’s a new social networking site for writers. I am already feeling fraudulent at the term “writers” – joining the site feels like I’m sneaking into a club through the back door. The site is the online equivalent of a writing club, where people can read each other’s output and comment on it, giving constructive feedback and helping each other improve. At the moment it’s in beta testing mode but will be launched with 2 different versions soon.

I’m about to upload a half written short story up there as my first piece. The good thing is that I’m not feeling nervous about it. Online anonymity (such as it is) works for me. I’m far too terrified to go to a writing group face to face and read something out loud. The distance of the criticism is a protective shield against my natural shyness and hopefully having people read my stuff and give some kind of feedback will improve my confidence as well as my writing ability.

I don’t know quite where this fear of performance comes from – I’m not usually short in coming forward with opinions about things in day to day life or in meeting people and getting stuff done. But for some reason I don’t like performing – and I’m classing writing as performance in this case as people will see something of me – in any way. In the same way as I like to play the guitar but don’t feel comfortable having anyone hear me I also like to write but I don’t want anyone to read me. Or at least not to read me while I’m present. But perhaps this is common in writers? It’s only performance poets who rely on a crowd, everyone else expects you to read it on your own. Hosting a book reading one evening at Waterstone’s with Jon McGregor, I told him I’d sat down one rainy Saturday afternoon and read his second novel in one gulp and loved it. He ssid that was exactly how he wanted people to read it and, while writing it, that was how he expected them to read it as well. Of course, most of the time that isn’t how we read at all – a few chapters before bed, a snatched page on the bus or on holiday, smudging the pages with sunscreen.

I’ve wandered off the point somewhat. So I’ll try out Quilliant and see how it goes. Feel free to comment on this blog – but please wait till I’ve logged off.

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