There’s the usual hell us writers can put ourselves through with absolutely no outside help, like contemplating and driving ourselves nuts with thoughts and questions like:
“Am I a writer if I never had anything published? If my notebook is the only one who knows my stories and even that is cringing at the thought of my calling myself a writer?
Am I a writer if I had only a couple of fiction pieces, maybe a poem or two published in online magazines and not in print?
Am I a real writer if I only have one story in print?”.
And then there’s the sentence “I am a writer.” which, after it’s taken us ages to be able to utter semi-clearly and at an audible decibel level in the presence of people, can immediately become a deadly weapon in case those particular people don’t get it.
We all write for different reasons. We write to listen, to speak up, to portray, to keep things to ourselves, to explain, to understand, to find ourselves.
We write to question, to answer, to let ourselves go, to be ourselves, to be someone different, to escape, to get close.
We write to rediscover the obvious or to surprise even ourselves with our words, to build up walls and to break down barriers.
One word can change things. One sentence can bring people together. One story can make us believe we’re something more. One poem can set a whole world of feelings free.
So when some people don’t get it, and especially when the people closest to us, whose opinions matter far more than they themselves probably know, fall short on emotional support and lack understanding it can feel like one of the worst things that could happen to us writers.
I know first-hand how awful it can feel. Either coming from acquaintances or those close to me.
I dealt with it just last week when I ran into someone and as we talked for a bit I asked, because she has connections all over the place, if she knew of any writing jobs (looking to add something closer to home to my existing online writing jobs). Her immediate (somewhat scandalized?) question was “But why don’t you look for a real job?! Look, I know this assistant manager position at…” that’s where I began nodding and inserting a “Yeah, sure.” when it felt appropriate to do so while thinking of how much her reaction and question stung… It still does a little actually.
So yes, I know how awful the lack of support can feel. I know how lonely it can feel.
And yet, how fulfilling it is while I’m writing, while I’m throwing my best, most creative self at it.
I’m writing for myself and I’m keeping at it because it’s the thing I can’t not do. Because it’s what I can’t imagine my life without. Because it’s what keeps me grounded and makes me feel safe. (Because before writing down the previous sentence I haven’t even truly realized that writing makes me feel safe.)
Because I am a writer.
PS: My friend j wrote such an eloquent post about this exact (real) worst thing, which prompted my blog post. Head on over and read it.