9 out of 10 writers will tell you that writing is a solitary endeavor. After just a few years in the game, I think I know why.
As a writer, there’s a part of you-a pretty damn big part, depending on just how obsessed you are with your ‘hobby’-that you have to protect from almost everyone you know. And there are two reasons you have to do this.
1- You can’t share your struggles.
If you complain about how hard any part of this is, you’ll inevitably be met with some variation of this response: “If you hate it so much, why do you do it?” It boggles the ‘normal’ mind why a person who is perfectly capable of pursuing any number of interests would pursue one that challenges them so. You know why you do it. The motivation behind each of us is different, but it all comes down to one very simple thing: you’re simply compelled to write. The world is dark when you keep all your words inside you, and grows darker still the more you force it down. But when you write … bliss. It’s fleeting, like a butterfly that alights nearby but flutters off the second you try to reach out and grasp it. But for that one moment, if you just be still and enjoy whatever small success you have achieved, you know peace. Speaking of successes, that brings me to my next point.
2- You can’t share your successes.
At some point, you’ll manage to pull off something you’re really proud of. Go ahead and tell someone that short story you blogged got 30 likes. Unless it’s a fellow writer or blogger, “they” won’t get it. They may even respond with something like, “Talk to me when you’re making enough money to pay the bills and then I’ll be impressed.” They are effectively telling you that you’re wasting your time by doing what you’re doing and wasting their time telling them about it.
It’s not this way for everyone, but it is this way for enough writers, collectively, that we have accepted that writing is a lonely endeavor. I don’t think I have any advice on how to deal with this. I’m struggling with it myself.
I do have a great support system, just not close by. The online writing community has saved my shattered confidence more than once. And, of course, my #1 fan: my mom. And I do have friends who know, instinctively, that “Congratulations” is the appropriate response when I share news I’m excited about, and that “It’s okay, you’ll get past this” is what I need to hear when I’m venting.
I guess if I had any advice on how to deal with the support system struggle many authors face, it’d be this: protect your successes and your struggles from those who simply cannot understand them. And share them with those who do.
Keep doing what makes you happy. To borrow a line I’m particularly fond of from someone whose name I’ll have to google …
“Don’t let anyone steal your joy.” -[Google was not helpful with this one. Apparently there are many versions of this, and it seems to have originated from the bible. So there you have it. Even God agrees I’m right about this much. :P]