There really aren’t many professions – or callings, or obsessions, or whatever term you prefer – that are, by definition, completely isolating. Of the few that do exist, writing seems to me to be the worst. The pay is (almost always) shit, and the costs are…unquantifiable.
Those of us who write live inside our own heads to a degree unimaginable to regular folks. We spend countless hours, and use countless tricks, to make real what we imagine. That is not, in all honesty, normal. It’s not even close. I am, in fact, fairly certain that those of us who do decide to follow this path fit any number of definitions in psychiatry’s DSM. Writer is, after all, the Old English word for “fucking nuts”.
Shit, even the simplest personal interactions can get weird: I was talking the other day to a friend at the brewery when she asked me about characters. Specifically, she asked about how “real” they are, and did they really “talk” to their creators? Silly me, I answered honestly. She was very polite and impressed, but the look on her face? There goes getting that particular date…
This is (in part) why we drink…err, well, it’s why I drink, anyway.
Ahem. That’s enough on that topic.
There are, however, people who do put up with us. A few…a precious few.
It’s a rare person who can understand – I mean really, honestly understand – just how and why we do what we do (or, at least, try to do). Whether spouse, significant other, friend or family, those few are vital to our success and survival.
Value them. Celebrate them. They help keep us grounded in the real world*, and that is more important than I think they can ever realize.
*Some people refer to that as “sanity”.
No one can go all old-school-hermit and live in total isolation. Humans are in the end social creatures, and we need a certain amount of life and activity around us. Hell, why do you think I write in a taproom in spite of being pretty much a total misanthrope?
Since my man-crush on Chuck Palahniuk continues, I’m going to use some of his words & thoughts. He had it right when he said that a writer can never get back all the time spent alone, that it is never “worth” the personal cost. Of course, he also said: “That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version.”
Now, please excuse me, but one of my characters is nagging me…
Shut up, Ilo! It’s not your turn yet!