I am giving in to a bitter feeling, which I try not to do. Maybe it's because of the incessant L.A. heat. Maybe it's because it's election time, and that barrage of misleading televised commercials from both sides are in full swing. Maybe it's because Saturn moved into my oppposite sign this week. Or hell, maybe I'm just bitter.
I am a writer living in a non-writer world.
When it comes to proving to myself, and therefore those around me, that I am indeed a writer, life continues to be a rollercoaster of uncertainty. There seems to be a universal mindset by those in the non-writing world that work is not real work unless it yields a paycheck. And by those terms, that the novel that I spent the summer laboring to rewrite, experiencing both elation and terror in the process, was not real either. The unspoken conclusion that I'm supposed to come away with is that my stress was self inflicted, since writing is not real work. The casual, yet determined reminder from those in my non-writing life that I should be focusing on real work - you know, the kind you get paid for - is filled with so much more than a concerned friend's advice. It's a reinforcement of the titanium-clad social norm which defines success as being a part of the workforce: punching a clock, commuting, going to happy hour, struggling with a toxic manager, realizing you're in a dead-end job, writing and rewriting your resume, etcetera, etcetera, and of course, regretting never writing those stories, along with the millions of other closeted writers who chose to conform to the non-writer world.
I have made long strides in being a nonconformist, and after years of struggle have created a pretty good life for myself in which I have paying non-writing work. But leaving room to write is still my challenge. And that feels like a handicap, one that I hide most of the time. I've compensated for years by simply not talking about my writing. I just keep it to myself. Until I can't. And then I spill it: all of the raw thrill, and fear, and confusion, and angst over my partially written but mostly imagined stories.
...Yeah, it's just really not a good thing to share with the non-writer.
That's where I am right now, and I have once again found myself in the resulting cycle of consequences to sharing. Phone conversations where I attempt to lament my stress about my writing result in a long dead silence on the other end that I can only fill in with, there she goes again. When will she ever let this writing thing go? Can we talk about me now? Actually, most conversations where I mention my stories result in that uncomfortable silence. And then, since I have no where to go but within, I begin to question the validity of my passions.
I deliberately avoid reading commentaries or essays about the daily practices of successful authors. These have only ever served to reinforce my fears that my own practices are the misguided impulses of an immature and undeveloped woman who has never found an outlet for her imagination. But those fears come from my own attempts to let anyone but myself define for me who I am and how I write.
I am a real writer. I know this because of the way I feel when I write, and the way I feel when I read my own finished work. I feel alive, connected and joyful. And since no one else can feel my feelings, I have to declare for myself, on my own definition, that I am indeed a writer. And sometimes that reality is very empowering, and other times it makes me feel incredibly isolated and alone. I'm in the alone phase at the moment and, wow, do I have a big void to fill.
So now my quest begins. I'm determined to stop struggling in the non-writer world, and join my people in the right world for me: the writer world. Where writing IS real work!