Commiserate

Life as a writer is a lonely one. Oftentimes, it’s just me and my computer screen staring at each other for an hour or so in the wee hours of the morning. Okay, I’m usually typing, but it’s still lonely. In the six months or longer that it takes to write a novel or in the weeks of endless editing, there’s very little interaction with anyone else. Quite frankly, anyone who isn’t a writer is hard-pressed to understand why you would do it, especially if you’re unpublished and get nothing from your writing other than the simple joy of creating stories and seeing them as a finished product (or at least as finished as you can get them). That’s why it helps to have writer friends you can talk to about your stories, struggles, and the general annoyances of being a writer.

Being a writer tests your mettle and determination more than most other career choices. With most other career paths, you feel like you’re on a team and when you don’t do as well as you hoped, others are there to pull you up and make you better in the process. Being a writer is like being stranded in the middle of the vast ocean with a single, deflating life preserver. You better start paddling frantically or hope a rescue boat comes along. Soon.

To make matters more difficult, getting better as a writer is often like trying to solve a vexing riddle. Once you get past the usual technical details of being a good writer, it becomes a matter of taste. My wife and I are both voracious readers, yet it’s rare that we agree on a single book as good. Her tastes are different than mine. As much as we have in common and as much as we enjoy spending time together, you’d think our reading tastes would align, but they don’t. That’s the crux of the issue with writing. One person may think what you write is the best thing ever, while another could find it insufferable and wish you ill on Goodreads.

That’s why it helps to talk to other writers and to have friends who are writers. Only then, do I feel like I’m in the company of those who understand. My day job doesn’t involve writing, so most of the people I interact with on a daily basis have no interest my next “great” idea or the internal debates about plot points or the struggle through the sagging middle of a novel. In fact, most people do not know I’m a writer because, let’s face it, unless you’re published and actually selling books, you’re just some weirdo up in the wee hours of the morning pounding on the laptop keyboard. And that, my loyal reader(s), is why you need writer friends with whom to commiserate.

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