I’ve been doing a lot of reading and soul-searching lately on the loneliness of writing. And like most introverts, I feel the most rejuvenated when I am pondering on possibilities of the worlds I’ve put on paper. We also have the uncanny ability to explore the richness of relationship in openness like few others can. After all, we have to be observers of human nature if we’re going to be good writers. This is something that can be seen by the outside world as a contradictory to our perceived behavior or perhaps make them uncomfortable. After all, we also can’t deny that we are creatures of relationship.
I, personally, abhor shallow friendships. If I can’t be in a deep friendship where we open up and can talk about anything, forget it. I love a friendship that I can run to when in despair. I’m lucky to have that with my sweet wife. But outside of my marriage, not so much. So should we, as authors, take on the mantra of preferably being alone than in bad company? I think it depends on whose company you keep.
So to my fellow authors, I say this.
Change but don’t change.
Grow in character. Grow in the craft. But don’t give in to someone who would discourage you on a path away from the pen. We cannot be shaped into something other than who we are. Just because you’re good at something other than what you were born to do doesn’t mean that you have to dedicate your life to that (unless you feel in your gut you’re supposed to).
And just because those closest to you don’t respect your passion doesn’t mean that it is not your path. I’ve been there too. And it hurts. Bask in the person you were meant to be.
Don’t allow yourself to sink into a deep state of loneliness but don’t be afraid of being alone either.
Embrace the insatiable need to create.
Author, Martha Carson really struck a cord in my soul when she wrote, “No writer can stand still. He continues to create or he perishes. Each task completed carries its own obligation to go on to something new.” This need will forever exist. The problem for me was that it wasn’t paying the bills.
Sometimes this craft can pay for itself and sometimes it doesn’t. There were times where I asked myself why I couldn’t be someone else. A plumber. A doctor. A lawyer. Something that people would traditionally recognize as a profession. That way I could have more easily set myself on a path that requires a traditional benchmark. I tried hard to push this need to regurgitate words away and drive down into the abyss. But when that happened, darkness overwhelmed me. Depression held me tight until I couldn’t breathe. It was only until I embraced the person that I will forever be did the darkness lift. So create. And keep creating. Don’t. Ever. Stop.
Focus on your craft
My wife and I had a candid conversation the other night about dealing with rejection. Before that, it was really tough for me to bounce ideas off of her or to chat about a course correction in a story. It wasn’t until we had that conversation that she revealed to me why that was. Here’s why. As an independent author I sometimes have to rely on campaign funding to cover the expense of producing a book. So to not make the campaign solely about me I created the “Buy a Book Feed a Family” drive to help raise funds for the hungry in our town which is small and close-knit. You’d think that with the nature of the campaign, people would jump to support. Not so. Out of the two circles of relationships I belong to, 4 people shared and contributed from one and zero from the other (which is where I spend most of my time).
I’ll admit, it was quite painful and it wasn’t the first time this had happened. But as I worked through that pain, I failed to notice that she felt the sting even more. She was agonizing over the rejection that I was experiencing and it devastated her. She coped as best as she could. I shared with her that all I could do at this point was to focus on the craft and not worry about who is supportive or not, who acknowledges who I am or not. You get the gist. Turned out I was never alone.
Focus on the worlds you create. Focus on the characters and who they are….fully. Be distracted by your own calling.
Out of all of the things I have tried to accomplish, writing has been the loneliest.
But it is also when I have felt the most alive.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate as well as a brown belt in American Bushido Kenjutsu which is the study of the Katana sword. You can visit his website, Science Fiction for the Human Condition at Leonardoverse.com. His books are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.