I have been intrigued by the reactions I get from people when I tell them I’m writing a book and a blog. Lovely people are extremely encouraging. They’re excited for me, and their enthusiasm shows. “That’s so great!,” they say, “I can’t wait to read your book when it’s done.” It is wonderful to hear those words, every time.
Then there are those who are less than enthusiastic, even perplexed. Perhaps you can relate. This is their most common query:
“What’s up with this writing thing anyway?”
A couple of times I’ve been told, “Blogs are kind of overdone, don’t you think?”
Then there’s the unusual but nevertheless arresting, “Oh, right, the book thing. Everyone thinks they have a book in them. It’ll last a month.”
As with most thoughtless comments, they reveal much more about the speaker than the recipient. But they do point to the need to be around other, like-minded adventurers when we pursue our passions. People who love you cannot always relate to your need to expand your horizons, and that is about them, not you.
A friend is taking a screenwriting class. To paraphrase her experience: “The biggest surprise is that my writing is crap. But it’s good to find this out and work to make it better. I thought it would be so easy and I only needed to sit down to do it. Wow, did I have a lot to learn.” She says having classmates who are also struggling to tell a story through the intricate dialogue of a screenplay makes it easier to put her work out there. (Plus, they give her great plot and character ideas.) I love talking to her about the joys and frustrations of the “writing thing” because she gets it.
When we make art of any kind – or pursue that gourmet chef thing or the triathlete thing or the entrepreneur thing or any new thing – we need to find our people. For me, they are both the family and friends who wholeheartedly cheer me on (thank you!), and the writers and art-makers who have been in the arena. These people will stay there with us when the work is crap or we burn the beef bourguignon or we drag during the swimming leg. They have felt the agony and the ecstasy. Rather than be afraid for us, they applaud us and laugh with us and remind us that we are on the right path. Most important, they understand why we are compelled to push ourselves past the limits we once set, no questions asked.
Leah and Carolyn
Writing Exercise: Join or start a writing group. Having even just one other person to bounce ideas off of will be a huge support. Or, take a class at a local writing center (we highly recommend Grub Street, here in Boston). Writing groups often spring from these classes.