by Kristen Hall-Geisler, Associate Editor, Indigo Editing & Publications
The lonely writer is a stereotype, a cliché, a character in a bad movie. He or she sits at a desk in a book-lined garret (why is it always a garret?), typing furiously, frown etched on his or her forehead, maybe a hand clutching the hair in literary frustration. A few dramatic lightning strikes outside the window would add some flair. (The photo accompanying this article is less dramatic than all that, but it shows where we Indigo folks found both private contemplation and community recently. More on that in a moment.)
For some people, like me, this is one of the best parts of being a writer, editor, and all-around literary person. I can write and read and edit manuscripts in my garret—if you want to call my home office a garret—all day long, lightning or no. I can drink as many cups of green tea as I want, and no one looks askance except the cat. But he looks askance at everything. A lot of writers are like this, even down to living with the disdainful cat.
But there is a community out there of other writers, of editors, of agents and publishers. This community gets the solitude thing, but it also gets that sometimes you and your work have to see the light of day if either of you are to survive. Small communities like writing groups are great for you as a human being and for your work. Bigger gatherings like readings are a fun way to see the variety of literary wildlife in our community, hear work you never dreamed of writing yourself, and be inspired to try something new.
Indigo makes an effort to be part of that writing community in Portland and in the Pacific Northwest. In early November we attended our company retreat, a two-day affair in Ashland, Oregon, where we met with Ashland Creek Press and Fuze Publishing. We were all happy to learn we had so much in common, from the thrill of working on a brilliant manuscript to dealing with the seemingly daily changes in today’s publishing business.
Since I am the newest member of the Indigo team, this trip was an opportunity to learn about my coworkers as people (Susan is a longtime science nerd! Vinnie recently discovered the joys of hip-hop star Flo Rida!) and as specialists in their fields. If a book project isn’t exactly right for me, I now know which of the five other Indigo team members has the expertise required to work with the author and make each project into the best book they can.
We also know at Indigo that we can’t edit if the literary community isn’t writing books. We’re saying thank you for putting in all those solitary hours with your manuscript by throwing our annual community appreciation party on December 8 at the Indigo office (917 SW Oak St., # 302, Portland, OR 97205). We’ll have games and snacks and probably loads of silliness. The Indigo community is your community, and we’d love you to join us in person. We’ll probably even reward you with a cookie for leaving your garret, whatever it may be.
Associate Editor Kristen Hall-Geisler spends more time with books and animals than people, but even she realizes you have to get out there and have a cookie with your community sometimes. Her work often appears in the New York Times and on HowStuffWorks.com, among other publications. Her editing specialties include how-to and memoir.