Why I Think Writers Are Like Bats

No, I’m not talking about baseball. I’m talking about flying mammals.

Yes. I am of the opinion that writers are like rodent-ish creatures with leathery wings, sharp teeth, and rabies.

Okay, so maybe not the rabies.

I’m kind of winging it here (Get it? Winging it? Hahaha.), because when I first came up with the idea for this post, I was just drifting off to sleep. “Writers = bats” popped into my head. I woke up enough to grab the nearest writing utensil — which happened to be my iPhone — and “scribbled” something that would later jumpstart me into writing a coherent blog post.

The note I “scribbled” took the form of an email I sent to myself with the subject line “writers are like bats. pinging.”

My Computer Comprehension. Let Me Show You It.

Unfortunately, the body of the email remained blank. And “writers are like bats. pinging” is not quite enough to send a power surge of writerly inspiration through my brain. However, one works with what one’s got.

“Pinging” gives me a clue as to what I was thinking. (I’m sure you computer gurus are going to squirm uncomfortably in your seats at what I’m going to say next, but I’m sorry — it can’t be helped.) My understanding is that a “ping” is kind of like a computer’s version of a Facebook “poke”:

Computer A sends a signal to Computer B…
…(i.e. Computer A “pokes” Computer B) to see if Computer B is paying attention.
If B is paying attention, B sends a signal back to say,
“Yeah, I felt your poke. Dude.”

If I didn’t get that right, you computer gurus are welcome to tell me about it. πŸ˜‰

The Return to High School Biology

Whether I got it right or not, my concept of pinging reminds me of how I understand a bat’s echolocation works.

The bat makes an ultrasonic noise that bounces off of objects and other animals, specifically the bat’s prey. The bat analyzes the echoes that bounce back; this lets the bat decide whether or not those tiny flying things right there are yummy insects or not.

Facebook-style poking: I poke you to get your attention — will you poke me back?

Chiropteral echolocation: I make a noise at you — are you edible?

Writerly sharing: I show you my work — will you give me feedback?

Writerly Facebook Bat

From Ping to Publish

I do believe, gentle readers, that this is what my almost-asleep brain was trying to tell me when I made the frantic grab for my iPhone in the dark and typed an email subject line that didn’t make a whole lot of sense:

When we writers share our work with beta readers, we’re asking them to give our project attention.
We’re asking them to read and analyze it, then communicate their resulting thoughts to us.
We’re sending a signal, hoping to get one back.

The same applies when we finally get our work published. A writer’s published novel is the writer’s attempt to ping, poke, and echolocate the world. Readers’ feedback consists of opinions, concerns, complaints, and, we desperately hope, enjoyments. These responses, these echoes, these answering pings let us know the shape of the world around us.

If we know the shape of our world, we have more reference points for relating to the world.

When we writers share our work, we find out what and where the world is. And that helps us know who we are.

Perhaps most importantly, echolocating our readers lets us know whether or not you are edible. ; )

Fellow writers, what do you say? Do you feel like a peckish, pinging mammal with leathery wings?

What have been your best/worst experiences getting feedback from readers?

Fellow readers, what do you say? Do you feel pinged?

What have been your best/worst experiences giving feedback?

9 thoughts on “Why I Think Writers Are Like Bats

  1. Bri says:

    This is a fun post! I’m not a writer, but I get the drift. I’m glad to see that FB poking can somehow be a positive thing…?

  2. Let me assure you, Courtney, I am edible. (Or is it YOU who are edible? I’m a tad confused on the reference…) What I’m trying to say is, you’ve had me hooked since that scene (Chapter 7?) of the gigantic pterodactylish demon and poor MC trying not to spew her guts. I can’t wait to read the Demons trilogy. πŸ˜‰

    Yes…ahem…so anytime you want to send me book one, I’m game. πŸ™‚ And hopefully I can reciprocate at least a tiny fragment of the helpful feedback you’ve given me in the past.

    • Becca, if my story’s got you hooked (and from that short, mid-novel, first-draft scene?!? –> cramazing compliment! THANK YOU!), then maybe I’m the one who’s edible? Or my story is, anyway? I think we are reaching the limits of this metaphor’s propriety. *giggle*

      I have no doubt that you will make an excellent beta reader. Keep an eye on your email!

  3. Susie McCray says:

    Very good post. Some of my best ideas either come to me in the middle of the night or when I wake up. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one.

    • Susie, thanks for visiting and commenting! And you’re definitely not the only one with iddle-of-the-night story ideas. I plan to make a full post about this in the future…but of the eight full-length novels I’ve finished, six have started out as dreams (or nightmares). I try to leave a notebook on my nightstand, but I forget sometimes — and end up forgetting some pretty cool story plots. How do you keep track of your ideas?

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susie McCray. Susie McCray said: RT @courtcan: Why I Think Writers Are Like Bats! http://bit.ly/gnsNis #blogging #SHINEonline #amwriting […]

  5. El Edwards says:

    I’m sitting here giggling at the mental image of you and your iPhone and how, having gone to all the effort of emailing yourself, you end up with a blank email and bats. And then from that you pour forth this genius! Seriously, why did you wait until now to start a blog of your very own? I love it!

    • El, thank you so very much! You do know just how to warm this writer’s heart. (Ahh, words of affirmation!) I blush at the word “genius”…but a little blushing never hurt anybody, right? πŸ˜‰

      As to the blogging…I did have a personal blog for years, but I rarely put any effort into it. I didn’t craft it; I just put stuff on it. I knew for a long time that I wanted to do something more serious and about writing…but alas, I had to get over myself first. I had to stop telling myself that I wouldn’t have anything to say and that no one would want to read it anyway.

      Aaron’s been quite instrumental in getting me to stop thinking such thoughts. They still crop up sometimes and probably always will…but I am determined not to let them stop me anymore!

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