For as long as I could hold a pencil and weave my own stories, I knew writing would be a lonely life. I may have the company of imaginary characters, squawking at me to tell their stories, to live their lives, but in the real world, my identity as a writer is often overlooked and even ignored. Generally, people will acknowledge my passion and will humor me in their interest to read my stories, but usually this is a passing fancy.
Rarely, do I garner support or understanding for my writing habits from others. Only when I am writing in groups or joining online communities do I get the feedback I want. I am not saying that there is no chance for feedback and criticism out there.
However, support is different than engaging with likeminded writers. Some writers give you their opinions out of help, and sometimes they do not participate in the mutual relationship that is writing – such as, you read my story and comment and I will read yours and give you the same energy. Some writers that I have encountered have given a little to others and expected a lot from their peers. To me, this is not true support.
Another type of support where I see a lacking is with family members and friends. Many of them do not understand the long hours required for writing, editing and polishing. They do not understand that you can not always plan a weekend of fun getaways and backyard parties because you’re knee deep in your draft. The idea of setting aside time to “just write” is foreign to others.
The worst part of lacking of support is when people closest you obviously do not care about your writing. They feign interest and support, but those are platitudes. Their support is sporatic and only skims the surface of the kind of encouragement that you need. I have found maybe one or two people in my entire life that are close or related to me that really truly support me. One person who sees I’m working hard and encourages me with simple expressions of hope and luck. One person who understands I need to take a Saturday night holed up in my office and just write, even if I’m languishly staring at a blank screen for minutes after minutes.
One of these two people is me. I’m my biggest supporter. I’m the one person that sends me good vibes of encouragement, congratulates myself on achieving a goal, and knowing that one day the hard work will pay off. The other person that is my biggest supporter is my husband.
But writing is still a lonely life because I expect even more family to encourage and support me. I expect some bragging when I’m not around on what my passions are. I expect some sort of general praise of someone who is my relative to tell others what I’m passionate about. When they think of me and are talking to strangers about me, what would they say? Would they only say I’m an artist? Would they only say that I’m a techie who could come fix your computer if something is wrong?
My writing always seems to escape them. It’s not as important a talent as drawing a landscape or managing machines.
I did not mean for this post to be narcissitic. I’m only acknowledging what a lonely life writing can be, that not everyone close to you is going to embrace it or feel it with the same passion as you do.
I’m aware of this like I’m aware that there are seven days in a week.
It’s hurtful. It’s frustrating. Why couldn’t my loved ones support all of me? Every talent, evey passion? It seems fruitless, and I don’t get any work done crying about it, or throwing myself pity parties.
If strangers can look at my writing and give me something then that’s good enough. If I can tell the stories and know that I am happy with myself and my accomplishments that is enough.
And for those who don’t believe in me or support me – maybe if I keep working hard enough I can prove to them that they are wrong in discrediting my writing.
That’s not the kind of encouragement I was expecting, but it’s definitely a challenge to show them just exactly what my true strengths are.
Add to that “people who make you feel bad for having something to occupy your time with when they don’t know what to do with theirs.” As supportive as Austin is of me, and as much as he allows me space, I see a direct correlation with me making progress on a project and him feeling mopey and self concious that he doesn’t have one (or if he has one, doesn’t believe in it).
I agree that writing is lonely and it almost has to be, because otherwise we’re bombarded with influences that intentionally or unintentionally try to keep us away from it. People either don’t value our writing time, try to guilt us into being social instead, they push their insecurities on us, or like you said, just pretend to be our writing companions in order to build their network list. Finding genuine supporters is so difficult, but that makes me glad we met in fandom. Fandom is about shared interests and no one is trying to sell anything. It’s probably the best place one could really build support, although I feel like fandom has become so anonymous and sporadic these days with tumblr taking the lead. Hopefully that won’t fall too much by the wayside.
Add to that “people who make you feel bad for having something to occupy your time with when they don’t know what to do with theirs.”
Yes exactly! I too get this guilt trip from others. That’s part of the frustration of just people understanding what it’s like to be a writer or to need that time.
Agreed about fandom. I owe fandom so much and am really glad I started out there. It is too bad about what’s going on with LJ, and tumblr is just hard to navigate for fandom – but I use that too, just for some desperate exposure. Yes, but at least we met in fandom! What an easier transition into the original writing world.
I’m sorry about the lack of support you’ve been experiencing, dear. But no matter how much that can wound you, your strength and determination to carry on and just be yourself no matter if others can’t understand is inspiring. Keep being amazing and talented! ♥ Your achievements are beautiful.
Thank you darling! That means a lot. I’m grateful for any sources of support!