Saturday, November 05, 2005

Interacting With Civilians

This morning, I was reading digests from some of my author loops and had to shake my head in sympathy. Several writers were bemoaning the lack of understanding they encounter from family and friends.

This is an ongoing issue for a lot of us. Becoming a writer is almost like moving into a foreign country with a different language, different customs and different values. Many of us find ourselves gravitating to new friends: writer friends who can understand GMC, character archetypes and plot arcs.

One of the writers this morning described an incident in which she'd announced that her book was soon to be published, only to be greeted with an almost-insulting disbelief from an acquaintance. Another complained of the pitying looks she received from family and friends at a gathering at which she'd reported the happy news that she now had an agent. Apparently her loved ones thought she needed an agent because her book wasn't good enough to sell on its own merits.

I have dear friends whom I've known for ten and twenty years. They truly try to be interested and supportive of my life. But it can be difficult for them. For the last two weeks, I've been working hard on a book. It hasn't left a lot of time for socializing. Today a good friend called to say, "I just wanted to make sure you're still alive." I appreciated the thought a lot, but was still in a rush to get back to my manuscript.

On the flip side, I was complaining recently to one of my three brothers that my cat insists on bringing dead squirrels and rats home to me. My brother's response: "Maybe he's storing food because he's afraid you won't be able to feed him from your book sales." Hello? Not exactly a vote of support.

I've found that the writer friends I've made online have been lifesavers. They understand what I'm trying to say without twenty minutes of explanation ahead of time. On a day when I've been struggling to get a scene right (or is it write?), it's a joy to open an email telling me about an interesting writer's blog or a tidbit of publishing news.

Being a writer is more than just sitting down at a computer. It's learning the talk and walking the walk and building your support network so that, when you do take a slam from a civilian, you can tell the story to your writer friends and everyone can have a good laugh.

1 comment:

Sherrill Quinn said...

Well, you know you have my support, Maya. My brother keeps saying, "Now that you're rolling in the money..." He's being flippant, of course, because every time he says it, I say, "They're not even published yet." But he's a smartass, so I gotta let him be true to himself. :)

Those friendships I've cultivated with other writers... you're right. They're lifesavers. Or, at the very least, mindsavers.