Because I’m a Writer Part 3 – “A Writer’s Isolation”

I never expected this theme to carry on for a third part. But I feel like I’ve not much else to blog about yet. I don’t feel like I’m done tearing off old band-aids of my writer’s soul. 

In writing my last post, it brought up a lot of childhood fuzzies that clogged my present, and it really got me thinking of where I’d come from as a writer. And it got me thinking about the relationships I’d had when I was pursing my writing for the first time at a young age… And then the relationships I have now now that I’ve fulfilled my writing to a higher degree. 

Grade school provided me with afternoons at my parent’s computer, typing on a CD program called Print Master. It was a program that could help you design cards, posters, creative templates, etc. But there was also a book template, and once my mom taught me how to make text boxes and print the pages with words on front and back, holy stars you better believe I was a little indie author back in 2007. 

At the time I was working on my own OC (original creation). I’m gunna give you a short breakdown of it even though it’s kinda lame. It was about a German Shepherd named Bandit and he was a stunt dog for acting in Hollywood. (‘Kay so, now that I’m not twelve anymore, I’m envisioning Bandit as like a police dog on Chicago PD.) But so Bandit had his career set – a golden star on the boulevard – until his owner’s manager decided to call in another dog. A younger dog. And Bandit’s life toppled in an earthquake of unfairness. It was complete with my own illustrations and everything. And it was during this little series I was working on called Hollywood Hounds, that I was dying, dying, to share it with my friends.  

I’d write, write, write, to punch out a new chapter to give to one of them on the weekends. Please read my book. Please read my book. Please…? Won’t you please read what I’ve written? Or, here, I know you don’t like to read, at least let me read some of it and you can tell me what you think?

And it was during this dying period, during the moments I’d let my voice fade out from reading Bandit’s story to them because no one was truly listening, that I realized no one cared… No one of who I thought were my closest friends cared in the least bit about my accomplishments or my interests in writing. 

I began to feel isolated. 

And so I simply stopped trying to force people into my world. 

I don’t know if you’d rate something like that as trauma to a kid. Maybe heartbreak. Maybe it was more like life slapping you on the wrist saying, “See, I told you you’re strange. You talk to an imaginary German Shephard that is a cross between Balto and Tramp and you expect to have friends? In the real world? Nope, sorry kid, it don’t work that way. No one cares about your book.” 

The lesson learned? You can’t force people to love what you love, and so sometimes you have to love your own isolation. 

You can’t force people to love what you love, and so sometimes you have to love your own isolation. 

I’ve learned to be okay with that. 

It didn’t deter my vision of one day being an author. Like, hi, I’m still here. See this debut that’s coming out? Yeah, I made it, I’m an author. 

And you wanna know how much support I receive? Let’s just say 95% comes from my husband and my mother in law. The other five percent comes from close friends, whether they live fifteen minutes away or they live on my phone screen on Instagram. 

Writing full time, yes, isolation is needed to be fully absorbed in your work. It’s the unwanted feelings of isolation that seed from people’s disinterest that is the darkest battle to face. It’s hard when you feel like you’ve bled out your best work ever…. Only for no one to comment on the excerpt you posted. It’s hard when you want to bring all the people you care about into this world you’ve created… Only you can’t because you simply can’t force people to read. It’s hard to not talk about your excitement of your upcoming debut to your family when they’re all talking about their recent achievements or their recent work week… Because they simply have no interest in hearing of it. 

I think honestly one of the hardest most aggravating things I can hear as a full time writer is something along the lines of, “Oh, well, you just write stories all day. What do you mean you worked today? You don’t get paid.” 

Whoah, okay, stop. 

No, no, I don’t get paid yet, and maybe I never will. Right now my payment comes in the rewarding satisfactory of completing a chapter that blows my own mind. But, you mean to tell me, that you truly think I sit there in front of a screen for six plus hours a day and just am happily writing unconstructed fairytales? Right, so… let me tell you about how much research goes into creating a whole other galaxy, never mind creating realistic people and concepts and magic systems and, oh hey, do you know much white board drafts go into tying up plot holes and character developments? Do you know how difficult it is to write a funeral scene when you’ve never lost a loved one in your immediate family? Do you know how difficult it is to write about something as simple as a broken bone when you’ve never even been hospitalized in your life? Go ahead and tell me I don’t work. It won’t be work until you read my work that you’ll actually come to realize how much work I put into it. 

And the typical response is: Oh, just make it up, because that’s what writers do, they make things up. 

You can insert a heavy face-palm here.

Yes, that rant was meant to be directed all those who doubt me, question me, raise their eyebrows at me, simply just don’t get it. I will back my career in my little sofa-cavern of isolation with pillow fort stockades and imaginary ballistae loaded with tropical skittles because my aimless fairytales are the most important thing in the world to me. It’s my job. 

Writing is my job. I don’t know when people will come to grips with that. 

It hurts. Sometimes it’s discouraging. So I’ve learned to be okay with isolation. You know, I truly feel like writers as a whole are different. In their own way individually, for we still have personality differences. But as a whole, I feel like writers are all made to love their isolation and strangeness. On a daily basis, we choose to go inside ourselves and dwell in an unseen world. But in order to do this, we have to be able to perceive the world on a deeper level than most. I feel like writers listen to people’s underlying statements, the embedded feelings left unsaid. I feel like we tear down piece by piece the lyrics in a song, or we observe from afar and try to put the simplest of actions into grand words. I think it’s an art that is magic all in its own. 

But no amount of magic can make up for the true physical loneliness that can come from a writer’s creative isolation. 

Creative isolation: The positive choosing to go into your world and work on your book
Dangerous isolation: The negative encroaching feelings of loneliness and worthlessness

Overcoming the latter isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s harder than it sounds to join a writing group, or to find a social media platform to express yourself to similar writers. But your life is what you make it. True lonesomeness comes from the lack of connecting. It’s a difficult pill for some introverts to swallow.  

The lesson learned? Learn to always come back to who you are. 

There’s nothing wrong with devoting your time to what you love. There’s nothing wrong with committing yourself to a dream. Or, paying yourself in smiles and tears in completing a first draft that no one has even read yet. All that is okay. 

A great majority of the world, a large fraction of our families and friends, might not understand what it is we really do or how much caffeine we drink so we can stop banging our heads against our keyboards. But we don’t write for them. We write for us. We don’t write to please others, we write to bare ourselves naked in front our own consciences. We write to find the bone-deep meaning of what it is we’re trying to convey. We write at unholy hours of the night because we can’t stop thinking of that unfinished paragraph. We get up before daylight crests the streetlights so we can get a head start on chapter twenty-five. 

We’re crazy. We’re driven. We’re found in nooks and crannies with a favorite mug and a sweater that might be one load late of a desperate wash.  

Why? Because we’re writers. And we learn to enjoy the wellsprings of meaningful soul-searching that isolation has taught us to swim in. 

Orhan Pamuk – Nobel Prize Winning Author
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