Sunday, 29 January 2017

Writing, loneliness and family support

Image result for loneliness

Recently I stumbled across this excellent blog post by Tricia Drammeh - it's an old one, but definitely worth reading, as the situation described is timeless and universal. You are a writer. This is what you are, this is what you do, and it's isn't in your power to change. You work hard, depriving yourself of sleep, leisure and recreation to find the time to write, yet the people in your life don't get it. They see you as a deluded, obsessed, lazy time-waster and a whole number of other unflattering epitaphs. They view your writing efforts with a mixture of alarm, pity and disdain. 

They wouldn't have minded supporting your writing venture if only they could see some success, critical acclaim and, most importantly, money. But there's the catch - once we have all that, family and close friend support is not such a crucial element anymore. It's while we struggle that we need our nearest and dearest. Once success comes, there are plenty of people ready to sign up to our cheer-leading team. 

To quote from Martin Eden:

"Why didn’t you dare it before? he asked harshly.
When I hadn’t a job? When I was starving? When I was just as I am now, as a man, as an artist, the same Martin Eden? That’s the question. I’ve been asking myself for many a day. My brain is the same old brain. And what is puzzling me is why they want me now. Surely they don’t want me for myself, for myself the same old self they did not want. They must want me for something else, for something that is outside of me, for something that is not I. Shall I tell you what that something is? It is for the recognition I have received. That recognition is not I. Then again for the money I have earned and am earning. But money is not I. And is it for the recognition and money, that you now want me?” 

It often happens that, after a writer has a breakthrough with one book - many times not their first book - the public suddenly rediscovers their earlier work and goes on to read and praise and buy it; the same work that had sat unnoticed and disdained for years. And then we might feel like yelling, "It's the same work you had despised earlier! So why do you flatter and coddle me now?" 

As Tricia said

"If you’re an aspiring writer who doesn’t think you can handle the pain of rejection, I’m here to tell you YOU CAN. Rejection is part of life. It’s part of being a writer. We deal with rejection from agents, from publishers, from reviewers who hate our books, from friends and co-workers who are jealous that we’re following our dream."

No one can stop you from following your dream, trite as it sounds. Support is wonderful; it can give wings to the weary and is like the draught of life on the arid and rocky uphill path from first draft to public recognition. But it won't necessarily come from your family or closest friends. Sometimes they won't get you - your goals and your books and what makes you tick. So go ahead and connect to other writers; find supportive people, online and off - they are worth their weight in gold; read what inspires and encourages you. And believe you can do it... even if no one else around you does. 

2 comments:

  1. This. A thousand times over. And I'm starting to think I'll have to read Martin Eden.

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  2. Rob, definitely do. Every writer should read Martin Eden, both as an inspiration and as a warning.

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