Fifty-one weeks after the second day of the new year
While last week’s post was about the people writers work with and those they’re lucky to have walking beside them on the path they’ve taken, supporting what they do, this post is about writers. Now, Author had originally began writing a very practical post, but how about we leave that for another week? This being the holiday season and the end of the year, Author thinks it’s more suitable to relax a bit, get more philosophical perhaps.
Being a writer has so much inherent in it, and writing has a unique freedom to it. You can write what you want. People don’t always have the freedom to be who they want to be and live the life they want. But as a writer, while you too perhaps don’t have the life you wanted, or maybe you would have liked a different past, you can have either in your writing. You can put yourself in your stories in any way you choose—whether directly, by fashioning characters, locations and events after your own experiences, or by avoiding everything that is you or your past by creating the characters that you are not, by placing them in realities you couldn’t or still cannot have. As the story’s writer, you can do with your words and the worlds they create anything you want. In that sense, writing is a gift. The ability to walk worlds that are your creation, to see so much in your mind, is pretty amazing. Life isn’t easy, and being able to lose—or find—yourself in work you love to do is a great thing.
Of course, being a writer does come with a less fun side, too. The insecurities, the fear of failure, the doubts and second guessing yourself about, well, just about everything. First you wonder if you can even complete the story you’re writing, if it will ever become a book. After all, you’ve never written a whole novel before, or even a novella, and there is so much you don’t know about the making of a published work. Being a writer means working alone, isolated in too many ways, and that, unfortunately, is a ripe breeding ground for discouraging thoughts. The good thing is that you’re lucky to be living in this era of the internet, social media, the ability to interact with so many people in so many settings. You can have pretty much any question you have answered, but more than that, you see that there are others like you, not knowing, asking, struggling. Of course, then you being to wonder, why you. Why should you be the one among all those new writers you see, aspiring authors, who will succeed? And when you do finish your story, that book you’ve dreamt of writing, when publication is in sight, the thoughts about the writer you are consume you. Are you any good, can you be as good as the writers you yourself read and respect? Will readers like your book, you ask yourself, will they like you, its writer?
And then there’s the impact of being a writer on your family, the people closest to you. In letting the writer in you take over, you let thoughts and emotions become dominant for the sake of your writing as you immerse yourself in it. Everyone gets engrossed in their work now and then, letting it drown out everything else, but writers tend to work at home, with their families around them, and there’s more interaction there. And they don’t have fixed hours in which they work—with their story alive in their mind work sometimes seeps into all hours of the day, especially when they’re still sorting out their work practices, before experience kicks in and allows them to organize their days better. Add to that living with a whole lot of self-doubt and uncertainty. It’s not easy, certainly not for new writers who have a lot to prove to themselves and, in their minds, to the people whose opinions they value. And then there’s the issue that creative people who’ve chosen to pursue arts sometimes face, of feeling that they’re different, that they don’t quite fit in. They’ve chosen a different path in life, different than what seems to be expected from us all, and that might make a good friend wonder why they haven’t chosen a regular career like everyone else, a job that pays a regular salary, the same framework of life like everyone else’s. It’s difficult enough that you question yourself, without having people who are important to you question your choices and perhaps even refuse to understand and accept the life you lead. That’s all a lot to deal with, and while you do, while you’re finding your footing in the life you’ve chosen—which will take time—do pay attention to your family. Whatever you’re going through in your first steps as a writer, they’re going through it with you. Make sure you’re aware of your effect and the impact of your decision to become a writer on them, and support them as they support you.
This week’s tip for the writers among you from Author and Sister: experience the good in being a writer, and don’t be afraid to deal with the bad. Look beyond it, to a time you will succeed (you do believe you will succeed, don’t you?), and on the way, accept yourself for who you are: an imaginative writer, who sometimes, yes, lives in a world of her or his own. If you don’t, you won’t only be fighting yourself, you’ll be fighting the stories within you.