Two Worlds


Over the past couple of years since officially declaring myself as an “aspiring writer” I have met and come into contact with a wealth of similarly minded people. I’ve learned a lot from these other writers and like to think my work has improved as a result.

However I’ve also recently become aware that this community is split into two worlds – the Offline and the Online. There is plenty in common between these two groups but some distinct differentiators as well:

The Online: This is you dear reader, the people read and write blogs about writing; Tweeters; the community on Shortbread Stories. In this world the Kindle is king (almost), the future is almost definitely digital and self-publishing is a realistic way forward for many. Everyone knows what steampunk is.

The Offline: My writer’s group, other authors that have met, readers of the Writers’ & Artist’ Yearbook. Here the Kindle is still an uncertain commodity, possibly even a passing fad. Self-publishing is a rare notion. Steampunk did you say? What on earth is steampunk?

Now this might sound like a criticism of the Offline – it’s not. I love the Offline and they have plenty of advantages over the Online (like you can look them in the eye) but sometimes they do sound a little behind the times, for example (in the UK) most agents and publishers still expect submissions to be printed out of paper and posted to them. That seems crazy to me.

So why the divide? Why the differences? I can only guess really but I reckon it’s down to two things:

1) America – The Kindle launched in the States a good year ahead of the UK so the whole self-publishing/eReader revolution is already much further along there. And since the majority of English-speaking people online are American or influenced by Americans then that would explain the different attitude to technology.

2) Geeks – Most people that have started a blog and Twitter account are fairly tech-savvy and with tech-savviness comes geekiness hence a much wider-spanning knowledge and appreciation of genres.

So what do the rest of you think? Are you aware of different subgroups within your writing communities and why that would be?

Title image courtesy nasablueshift

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Published in: on July 2, 2011 at 5:28 PM  Comments (7)  
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  1. I don’t have an offline writing group, unfortunately. I can’t seem to find a group of people that read/write fantasy locally, and I usually get blank stares when trying to describe my projects LOL.

    Online I run into groups that overlap in venn diagrams like ways. There’s the science fiction, fantasy, ya, horror, Christian fiction, and romance people. The sci/fi & fantasy bunch usually overlap. Horror not so much. YA sometimes with fantasy/sci fi. Also among those, the self publishers and those pursuing traditional publication.

    Alas, I have no kindle, nor smart phone, nor ipad, even though I belong to your online category 😉 I am however, a geek!

    • My writing group definitely isn’t specialised – a couple of the others do a little bit of fantasy but for the most part it’s straight drama and comedy. But I really don’t mind and they don’t mind my contributions either – I think it’s definitely healthy to exposed to areas you wouldn’t have otherwise.

      I do have an Android but no iPad or Kindle – I occasionally borrow a Kindle from work but still have mixed feelings about it!

  2. Interesting obsevations David, which sound about right. I imagine because online is readily accessible and writing groups are not then there is a growing tendency towards online as more and more people who want to ‘have a go’ find sites like Shortbread and realise they to can write.

    • Hey there Adam – yes I think you’re right, for people just starting out in writing it’s much easier to begin with somewhere like Shortbread. If you make an arse of it then you can just close your browser window!

  3. I was halfway to having an offline writing group myself… but I just can’t find the time to commit to it. I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon, I fear. I just don’t think I can legitimize taking a night a week or so away from the family so soon after just getting my nights back.

    As a member of the online world, though… I’m still on the fence about e-self-pubbing and whatnot. Is it a viable option? Sure. Is it the right, or best option for any given author? I don’t know about that. There’s very little evidence either way, frankly.

    Obviously, I am not an early adopter…

    • Also, like TS above, though I’m both a geek and in the online category, I lack a dedicated reading device, a smartphone, an i-anything, or an anything-pad. This is a condition of perceived pecuniary insufficiency…

      • Interesting… I wonder if my view of ePublishing has been clouded by the torrents of people evangelising about it on Twitter?

        Also neither you or Bazelli have a smartphone? I am surprised at that – not in a “you’re both dead to me” way but certainly a “well how on earth do they make Facebook updates on the move and play Words with Friends?” way. (:


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