Despite having a handful of incredibly talented friends who are also writers, I don’t share my process or progress with any of them. It simply doesn’t come up in conversation, and I won’t bring it up, except to maybe say I’m working on something new in passing. Several are maybe privately producing and not talking about it, and others haven’t brought it up to me in eight or nine years, if not longer. I can’t force conversation out of people, so I let it be. If someone wants more support from me, I’m honestly not sure how much more I can give seeing as how I already do all the right thing.
I have supported any and all new projects they have taken on. To the point where it’s almost ridiculous how blindly I have shown my support, plugged projects and novels, but recently someone asked me, “Who supports you? Who cheers you on? You’re not getting what you give to others.” This came from someone who I trust to occasionally push me, but it also made me think deeply about the lack of support I receive in both my personal and professional lives. I paused. I’m not talking about readers, but my family and friends? That’s a whole other ballgame.
My family, for the most part, does not understand anyone who is not an immediate billionaire doing what they love; what they are truly talented at. This is borne out of ignorance, competitiveness, and their own superficial, borderline narcissistic issues. However, it is their issue; not mine. I am not saying all of my family is like this, but the numbers are too high for me to pretend there’s a majority of support when there most certainly is not. I know the truth. I know how they treat me, and the bullshit that is discussed behind my back. Why would I want support from such creatures?!
Other family members cannot wrap their minds around what I do because they consider it a, “hobby” and think it’s something you do in your free time. 🙄 “It must be nice to have that kind of free time to just write.” Yes, this has been said to me several times. The rest choose to ignore what I do so they can build themselves up. After all, no one could possibly be greater than them. 🙄 They can pontificate for hours on how incredibly brilliant they are, yet you’ve heard not a solid, intelligent word spoken the entire time. It’s not dissimilar listening to a drunk person spouting prophecies on the train or at the train station (Anyone who lives in a major city knows what I’m talking about.).
In the words of the great Tom Hardy who I am loosely quoting, “People ask what you do in order to decide how much respect they should pay you.” There’s an additional part of the quote, but he sums it up nicely, and accurately.
I’m a full-time writer. I don’t get off-days; I have to schedule my life around my writing. I don’t get paid vacation time. I have health insurance. I can pay my bills, and I am beyond grateful for all of that. I win awards. I am invited to some amazing events which provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I am not a newbie. Ten years in, or less, and you had to take classes to explain basic principles? Newbie. Those are facts, and yeah, I’m wary of people who try to force themselves into something, and then the way they try to shove themselves down your throat in a competitive fashion. It is NOT a cute look for anyone. You can gain support and community by being a good person who listens, and doesn’t just talk at others. Consider your life relationships for a hot minute, because we all know someone, or many people, who do this to us. The difference is that you might perceive it differently than I do, or have more patience. I received many chips, but the patience chip is reserved almost exclusively for babies, small animals, and my favorite SoCal Maple Tree (If you know, you know.).
No one had to teach me how to be a writer. It’s honesty, ink, and paper. Every ounce of experience I possess is crucial to how I operate and navigate the business side of being a writer, as well as the creative side. Having a background in Public and Fan Relations, understanding so many different business aspects, and knowing how to nail things correctly the first time are probably a few of the best things I can rely on, off the top of my head. You have to be a natural at it; some skill sets really can’t be taught. I’m not saying that to be mean, I’m speaking from personal experience. I cannot teach someone with no imagination how to magically be creative. There are no magic wands here, I’m afraid.
Roughly five or six weeks ago, an extremely close friend was really proud and excited about how much I have accomplished on my current manuscript. I am getting closer to two and a half months in, and I’m almost at one hundred and six thousand words. That’s not easy. I did a quick draft initially, redrafted, and have continued to polish as I go. What has helped me the most is our constant contact during the process. She has allowed me to share regular screenshots of my daily progress and major milestones. With zero jealousy on her part; only pride and excitement. This must be what it’s like to receive completely unselfish support. <Gasp>
There are days I’m writing between three and five thousand words, and days where I’ve forced myself to write a thousand, and I do mean forced. There are also days where a few hundred words is my limit, and I have to make myself go the fuck to bed since I start writing most days by ten a.m. and don’t always stop until after three in the morning. That is, clearly, a lot of time spent on specific subject matter, and character development. Tonight, I allowed myself to take a break so I could watch playoff baseball. Balance is helpful.
Being able to share progress with a friend who is invested in me, as opposed to when she gets to read the finished product, is one of the most helpful things I have experienced. It encouraged another person to check in with me every few days and discuss my progress, as well. Everyone’s schedule is different, but my gratitude for people who truly care about me, and who choose to make themselves available is proving invaluable. They don’t need a daily synopsis, it’s more like a, “How did you do? How is everything coming along? Do you feel good about what you wrote today?” It is true support. When you know the difference, it’s easy to spot someone who is merely trying to compete with you. For me, there is never going to be any competition. I prefer to be a safe space for knowledge and support. That’s my choice, a choice not to be negative or toxic. Regardless of the path you choose, I hope it is something you can live with.
Enjoy what you do, or there’s no point. And if, like me, you are watching baseball for the next month, let me know who you’re cheering for.
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