Howling at the Moon

HowlingOver the years, before Indies Unlimited, I wrote by myself for myself; until whatever I was writing was ready for publication no one but me, apart from my editor, heard the sound of my voice.

I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I’ve never played or supported any sporting teams; in fact games of any description have never interested me. What pastimes I do have (and I use that term loosely) are quite solitary affairs and so it probably comes as no surprise that I’m pretty much a loner with my writing too. I used to think that was part and parcel of being a writer, I therefore felt a kinship with those iconic, and supposedly reclusive, writers I had always held in high regard.

Outside of my literary pursuits, I chill out with my other main pastime, the martial arts, which for the most part these days is an insular affair, a constant quest of self-perfection. In my twenties in Scotland, I was in the National Karate Team; later, in my thirties, after immigrating to Australia I returned to the fray with the NSW State Karate Team. That’s two fairly elite teams, but I don’t think karate is a ‘team’ activity in the true sense of the word. As a team leader/operations manager, I led several select ‘close personal protection teams’, but I was basically running the show, so I don’t think that counts either.

As part of a National Heritage initiative, I collaborated on a children’s story book with five other authors. It was actually quite successful; however it was conducted in a fairly remote way: six authors doing their own thing with little or no contact, and practically no parameters. One author wrote a chapter and passed it on to the next author, who wrote a chapter and passed it on… As I was the last in line I was allowed two chapters to tie it all together. To this day, almost two years on, I have still only ever met one of the other authors; I might just add that we have actually become very good friends. It seems that I can be part of a collaborative affair as long I am left to do my own thing.

I write and, hopefully, continually improve – at least I feel that I am ever evolving as a writer – I am certainly more critical of the writing I do produce; which is possibly the reason, only partially mind you, that I haven’t published anything for a while. I have these great ideas, superb concepts and story outlines, as well as partially written and, in some cases, well developed plots. Currently I actually have a body of work that if I could really come to grips with it might be finished in a few weeks… maybe. All I need is to get past my own critical barriers: I have become obsessively determined not to turn out anything remotely pedestrian; and these days nothing seems to be good enough.

I certainly wouldn’t dream of knocking the current trend for writers who socially network: sharing their inner, most intimate workings and learning from each other. Some people are really good team, group and sharing individuals but alas, perhaps to my own detriment, I believe I am a lone wolf. It certainly seems that the less interaction I have with others the more I produce.

I have found the IU experience to be unlike any other writing community experience. I believe that, by my interaction at IU, I have grown, adding more depth to my knowledge of my craft and its place in today’s world. And where I once did things instinctively – often, initially, getting it wrong but ultimately learning by my mistakes – I now know and understand more about the why of it all.

Personally I find that being more familiar with the rules can be a two edged sword: where once I operated from my creative core, at times I now tend to overthink (what is technically right), which sometimes gets in the way of what used to be my natural flow.

In conclusion, I believe I need to move the formal rules from the field of play (my conscious act of creating), relegating them to the bench (my subconscious) and give my creative instinct its unfettered head. Perhaps I need to howl at the moon once more: write for myself again.

What has been your experience in this modern, socially inclusive forum of a world? We are all uniquely different, what is your particular bent? Are you a team, group hug, kind of person? Or are you a lone wolf?

Author: T.D. McKinnon

Scottish author T.D.McKinnon ‘Survived the Battleground of Childhood’ in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England before joining the British Parachute Regiment at fifteen where he remained for five years. He has trained in the martial arts for most of his life and had five Karate schools in Scotland before immigrating to Australia. He writes across several genres and has completed five books that are all available as eBooks. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife. Learn more about T.D.McKinnon at his website and Amazon author page.

49 thoughts on “Howling at the Moon”

  1. Great post, T.D. I’m another lone wolf, for the most part. I’m pretty selective about my social network choices – so selective I doubt any of my social networking leads to book sales (not really my goal with it), although it definitely leads to me learning more about writing/publishing (that’s my goal with it).

    1. I hear you, Melinda, my social networking in regard to selling my wares is pretty feeble. I keep hearing of people who have the answer and I know that some authors really make it work for them, but to me it feels totally alien; pretending it wasn’t would be like lying, and I’m a lousy liar.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Melinda.

  2. T. D. shouldn’t you be a lone dingo? Wolves inhabit my part of the world.

    I’d say I am in the same camp. I live in the country, write in isolation, still practice Taekwon-do (though I no longer train with any club), and enjoy virtual communities like IU.

    1. I suppose if I had always been in Australia or became a loner once I arrived here I might indeed be a lone dingo, Shaun, but since I brought the beast into the country I guess it’s still a wolf.

        1. Coincidentally, just after I responded yesterday, a lone eastern coyote (close cousin of wolves and dingoes) trotted across my field in plain view. Cheers

  3. Super post, TD. Funny how so many of us are lone wolves (or dingos). I too consider myself a loner. I have to admit that Indies Unlimited opened up many possibilities with regards to social networking and I hop about some days to get new ideas and iron out problems. It has allowed me to develop my skills and writing in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible. Some interaction is good but when I want to write, I find solitude works best for me. If your hearing is up to it, you’ll hear me howling some nights high on my windy hill in Staffordshire.

    1. You’re right, Carol, through IU I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one, so I guess I’m not really howling alone.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Carol.

  4. Another lone wolf here – forcing myself to step out of that box we hear so much about. IU is a great experience because of author’s like you who share. Thanks for this post.

    1. So perhaps our collective, lone howls will be heard.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Elisabeth.

  5. Great post, J.D! This definitely resonated with me – as a fellow “lone wolf”.

    IU has helped me to come out of my shell more over the past year and has allowed me to meet so many nice indie authors across the globe.

    A group howl is definitely in order. 🙂

    1. ‘A group howl’, I like that!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting, S.A.

  6. As writers our creative process comes from within. I’m alone when I’m at my keyboard. In the distant past I trekked all over the country to writer’s conferences. The pull was to meet editors, agents, like-minded writers and keep up with the publishing industry. I enjoyed meeting other authors and I made good friends. I don’t go to conferences any more. They still sound enticing, but everything I need to know and learn about the ebook industry is at my fingertips the instant I log on the the internet. My first stop every single day is right here. I found my editor here, I found my formatter here. Indies Unlimited is my virtual writer’s conference. I am only now learning social networking and what works for me and what doesn’t. I know exactly where TD is coming from when he talks about writing on instinct. I have learned that input from others with their own agenda can curb my instinct and my creative energy. Like TD I may get it wrong–but hey! It’s my wrong. I’ll address it. I do know this much–it takes a virtual community to market an ebook. #am writing.

    1. Jackie, I love this: Indies Unlimited is my virtual writer’s conference. So true, but even better. It’s “on” all the time, covers wide-ranging subjects, has multiple keynote speakers–and it’s free! Can’t beat that with a stick.

    2. Doing the writers conference hoping sounds kinda like a literary, social butterfly with an agenda, Jackie. I get it, perfect for some people.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Jackie.

  7. Enjoyed your post, T.D. There’s nothing wrong with being a loner, an introvert, or a lone wolf/dingo. I’ve found great satisfaction with my life now that I’ve acknowledged that I belong to that writer wolf pack. Howl away! 🙂

    1. “Awwwooooo!!!”

      😉 Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Lita.

  8. Excellent post, TD – you’ve written almost exactly how I feel. I always put it down to the fact that people are so bloody unpredictable. You never really know where you are with them. People in the real world vex me, and I don’t like it, so I try to avoid them. My characters tend to do what they’re bloody well told to do.
    On the other hand, it’s always worth listening to people who have more experience and a different perspective, and if they give something, then it’s important to try to give something back. That’s my reasoning 🙂

      1. Hey, Chris, where do you find those characters that do what they’re bloody well told? Trying to get mine to do what I want them to do is like herding cats. Would you send me some of yours?

        1. I’m a hard-and-fast plotter, Melissa. Dues-ex-machina is my middle name (and how I keep my characters in check :))

    1. I hear you, Chris… I’ve rubbed shoulders with a wide variety of society in my time; I was a loner before I began this journey and, if anything, I’m even more of a loner now. If not for IU I’d be a virtual hermit.

  9. Really great post, TD. I’ve always felt like a loner, but paradoxically love interacting with people. (don’t need people around, but enjoy it when it happens) When it comes to sports and hobbies, it’s usually something I do on my own (swimming, hiking, photography, gardening, etc).

    I’ve never been much of a joiner, but enjoy crowds. I’d probably fit more in a hybrid category–part loner, part people-lover (I’ve met lots of creatives who fit into that in-between space). My sister is more of a loner-artist who would be totally fine without people around for months. The most important thing, though?Both of us howl at the moon 😀

    1. I think I’m with your sister on this one, DV. Oh I have taken a social detour or two in my life but the most at peace I’ve ever been is on a sitting mountain, alone.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting today, DV.

  10. You’ve posed some interesting questions. Even howling at the moon is not a solitary activity. Wolves howl to connect to other wolves, mostly. They may not always run together but they hear each other and answer each other – like your children’s book experience. I think many of us do that – work alone but connect via social media. Without some such outlets we’d be hiding in our dark dens alone. I know I would be if it hadn’t been for Indies Unlimited.

    1. There are now one or two schools of thought on why wolves appear to howl at the moon and connecting, in regard to some of the theories, is way down the list; however I definitely get your drift, Yvonne, and certainly agree in respect of Indies Unlimited.

      Thank you for dropping by and connecting today, Yvonne.

  11. Is it any wonder we indies (both contributors and readers) are a tight-knit group? Seems we’re all in the same wolf pack. Some decry the trend toward social activities via technology rather than face-to-face, but actually this internet interaction suits me to a T. I love the fact that everything I need is here–when I want it. And if I’m hunkered down over the latest WIP, no one minds if I disappear for a while. For me, at least, it’s the perfect balance.

    1. I’m just an old fudydudy who growls at change, but then gets on with it to the best of my ability. I talk to my sons on the phone every week (give or take) and one of them has a son, Jett, who is three years old; whenever I complain about the complexities of social media et cetera, they’ll say, ‘It’s a pity you don’t live closer, you could borrow Jett for the day, he’d sort it out for you.’

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting today, Melissa.

  12. I forgot I wanted to say something about social media and marketing. I’ve found it’s easy to get whipped up into a frenzy over blockbuster sales that we hear about, and easy to think I’m doing it wrong because I haven’t achieved that kind of success. I have to constantly remind myself that (1) any of those get-rich-quick, “guaranteed” methods are a scam and (2) building platform is slow, hard, plodding work, but it’s the only thing that works in the end. It just takes time to show results. I figure in another 20 years, I should be an overnight success!

  13. I hear ya, TD, and not just because you’re howling. 😉 I consider myself an introvert who has had to train herself to be more extroverted in order to get along in the real world. (I once had a personality analysis that nailed it for me: people think I exhibit leadership qualities because I’ll take over floundering projects, but really I’m just in it to get the thing done, and herding cats is a necessary part of the process. 😀 )

    And I too appreciate both the fact that IU is a 24/7 virtual writers’ conference, and that I can shut the thing down when I need to write.

    1. I certainly hear you on the taking over and getting it done, Lynne, I’m sometimes told that I’m arrogant: ‘it’s my way or do it yourself!’ I don’t necessarily agree with that but I do understand that it may appear that way sometimes.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Lynne.

  14. T.D., your post about being a lone wolf as lured other lone wolves–including me–out of their dens. Personally, I like the clutter of my den and the kind of magic that shows up out of nowhere when I’m writing. Why come out when the world is in here? Our lone wolf imaginations are giving us something better than the “real world” outside the door.


  15. I guess the fact that my family calls me a hermit means I am indeed a lone, maybe not a wolf, probably more of a gargoyle.

  16. Hermit is a reference most of us (lone wolves) have heard applied to them at one time or another; so welcome to the pack,or is it welcome to the clan (gargoyle clan)?

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting today, Dale.

  17. Hello TD and thanks for a great post — and a fascinating subject. I must be your polar opposite — i can’t wait for folks to read my drafts — especially since there is so much they can tell me that I can’t see. The other day I read a chapter that i had worked on for quite a while — i knew something was wrong but could not see it — then a friend dropped by and i read it to her — and she picked up on what was off right away — as a result, the chapter works for me, and her single point had a cascade effect on the next few chapters, enriching them as well.

    That said, I can quite see why most writers would play the lone wolf/dingo role — apart from everything else, one lousy critique can really put a spanner in the works!

  18. As I said previously, Mira, we are all uniquely different, ‘Vive la différence’.

    Thank you so much for dropping by, Mira.

  19. Hello T.D.,
    Your post and the excellent comments got me thinking – and I’m no closer to categorizing myself as an introvert or an extrovert. I will talk to just about anyone, and love to observe human behavior. But, it took me years to learn how to play a team sport, and it was a great lesson in self-control and positive communication. In doubles you have to learn to work with a partner, move together, strategize, etc. This was excellent for my personality. Like many other authors above me in this thread, proficiency is often mistaken for arrogance. I am extremely protective of my personal time, and often want the house to be silent, because my mind is not. Do not dare call me when I’m working. I’m not nice.
    I don’t believe we can grow into our best self until we identify our weaknesses, and what triggers our ego to take over. You enjoy your own company, and I enjoy mine. Do the wolves howl to call their pack as Yvonne says above? Do they howl to say, “hello night, hello moon, I’m alive and I have something to say!”? (I have no clue how to punctuate that.) 🙂
    As always, a wonderful post. Good evening.

  20. I suppose this post raises more questions than it gives answers for, but that’s not a bad thing, is it? I think all I am saying is that, no matter whether we work better alone or collaboratively, whether we are loners or team players; we should accept and embrace who we are. And perhaps we don’t know for sure what that is until we try it on for size.

    By the way, I think I would be tempted to write that without quotes: Do the wolves howl to call their pack as Yvonne says above? Do they howl to say, hello night, hello moon, I’m alive and I have something to say!?

    Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Lois.

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