The Solitary Life

The writer’s life is the most solitary and misunderstood endeavor I have seen. What about you?
     We have literary groups. Online presence. But we spend a great deal of time writing, in a group, critiquing, editing our own work, writing synopses/queries, and of course, reading.
     I don’t know about you, but my family sees this as laziness. A silly non-job. After all, it doesn’t contribute to the GDP unless money is made. Think of JK Rowling. Near homelessness, she began to write stories to read to her son. Imagine the agents and publishing houses still kicking themselves for pushing her books into the slush pile. I’ve never read her work, not a genre I am drawn to (and I take issue with witchcraft), but you see where I am going. Her family is now flush with money. I wonder what they said before the millions came in?
     The same thing happened to Dr. Suess. You think his family said, ‘wow, what a great endeavor!’ Beatrice Potter went on to create her own publishing house amid her family’s negative response. Her books are still popular today.
     Aching to be a published author is hard work, and heaven forbid other writers disparage our dreams. Other writers and readers may say 1. No one gets published as an unknown author, 2. your chances are one in a billion. 3. Where’s the money? 4. I don’t see any training or gold medal . . .
     Agents don’t tell us why our manuscripts hit the slush pile. This creates only more loneliness in our frustration. And, if you do get published, the reader may wonder why you want all of three dollars for a book. Please, readers who do this, sit for a month and pretend you’re a writer.
     Admit it. Writing is a misunderstood profession. It took five years for my husband to recognize that if nothing else, it is a gift, a path (obsession, ahem) that I must, must follow–lest I despair (Proverbs 13:12).
     The rest of my immediate family says, ‘That’s nice,’ but wonder why I would waste time on a hobby that one they can’t hold in their hands, can’t sell (hope springs eternal for me). I may spend a month (Nanos, ya hear me?) furiously writing a novel, only to miss Thanksgiving, birthdays, important holidays. Spending money on coffee shops. Leaving church afterward, speeding off to spend time with a group of like-minded folks.
     It is important that we spend time with groups whether online or in town, and if your (paying) job allows it, travel to conferences.
      I struggle with writing, not the ‘writing drunk,’ but the ‘editing sober.’ I struggle with the craft. Why? There are too many experts who have different opinions. The only hope right now is to follow what agents want, what editors say, the usual guidelines. The process can take up to two years (after you write, edit).
     I have learned characters are bigger than plot. Heavenly writing — well-written and grammar-perfect manuscripts.
     Are you a lonely, solitary writer? Find a good group. If you land an agent on your first draft, that is awesome. If you do–please don’t gloat. Instead, extend a hand to help, to encourage, share the names of agents and publishing houses that accept manuscripts. Withholding this is greedy.
     So, if your family disses your writing, pray, tell them the importance of your hard work. And when someone asks you what you do, say you are a writer. Claim it  not just within your soul, but to anyone who mocks you. It’s time to stand up–your paying job is not what you are called to, not if writing is your passion, what God has written on your heart.  
     Agents are overwhelmed but keep on submitting, tell your family (or just ignore them), whether you are ever published or not. Our passion is our passion. It’s not golf, rock-climbing with friends and family. It is solitary. When family rolls their eyes, it is lonely.
     You may feel alone, but you are not. Perhaps you can call your family the family of writers across the world. OK, don’t neglect your family–but if they don’t understand, don’t argue. Not worth the angst to deal with their negativity. You may be the next NYT’s bestseller.

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