The artist, drunk, talking about how awesome he is, at a bar


I talked the other day about the Lonely Garret Writer, and I mentioned that there was another type of writer that I called the Gregarious Barfly Writer.

First, for the sake of continuity, some definitions (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online rather than Wikipedia this time, because Wikipedia was less helpful on this one).


a :  tending to associate with others of one’s kind :  social
b :  marked by or indicating a liking for companionship :  sociable
c :  of or relating to a social group
Basically, these are the kind of writers that are chatty and like people. They’re the ones who are good at networking, who are good at self-promotion and have no trouble tweeting. They can talk about their books, love talking about their books. And about running with bulls and fistfights and stuff. They’re the kind of people who think they look good in hats and read a lot of Hemingway.
And there’s anything wrong with any of that.


:  a person who spends much time in bars

An explanation of the barfly thing—it’s an extension, a connection to the gregariousness of this kind of writer. It’s something that I’ve noticed from going to writer’s conferences. You don’t have an actual conversation with a writer at a panel or at a signing. You have a conversation with them at the bar afterwards.

You could argue, and rightly so, that drinking is hardly exclusive to the gregarious writers. I know that. LGWs can also be found congregating at the bar after an event (and possibly before an event, just to get some Dutch courage) just as much as GBWs can, but there’s a different tone to it.


: someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.

: someone who has written something

This other kind of artist, what it sometimes seems that social media wants all artists to be, is good at doing their work in public. They’re good at talking about themselves and their work. They can discuss their work in progress without angst, existential or otherwise. They have a philanthropic bent that goes along with their gregariousness. They like to write in coffee shops. They liked to be asked about what they’re writing in coffee shops. Usually.
They can post a chapter of their work online, get a tepid response, and take it in stride. They can rework, or put aside, what they’re working on based upon audience response. Their skin is thicker, or else they’re not as … enmeshed. Committed. I don’t know. I don’t understand them as well, not being one of them.
Not really.
I reiterate that I think that no writer, no artist, is completely LGW or GBW, and that there is often a great deal of crossover. I can and often do talk to anyone about anything. But when it comes to my writing, I’m a bit more hesitant, a bit more uncomfortable. I feel a bit more like I’m revealing fragile secrets, that I’m going to break my story by talking about it.
Maybe GBWs just understand instinctively that they can’t do that.

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