I’ve had to make a choice. A friend, or my writing. I chose my writing. Sounds harsh. Narcissistic. But she did not support me. In fact, she undermined me. And I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that there are people out there who are willing to support me – sometimes strangers (like you) who connect only through the ethereal mist of the internet. And I know that staying attached to those in my life who do not support me in my writing is toxic and a waste of my time.
Being a writer is hard enough without someone pulling you down, telling you in words or otherwise that it is a pointless pursuit.
This particular friend had the following statement for me: “Focus on something other than your book!” The words came in a text, complete with exclamation mark.
As writers, we pour ourselves into our work — our souls, our hearts, our entire life experiences. And this friend was dismissing hours and hours and hours of my life’s work with just a few flicks of her finger on her iPhone.
I had given her the completed first draft of my novel to read – 75,000 words. That alone should tell you how close we were. She had her hands on the manuscript for six months and had only read two chapters. She once called me up on a day I had scheduled for writing to see if I wanted to join her shoe shopping at the mall. “No, thanks,” I told her. “Today is a day I have scheduled for writing.” In response, she said, “You can’t sit around all day doing nothing.”
So when she told me to focus on something other than my book, several thoughts ran through my head. What should I focus on, then, I thought. Perhaps the triad of depressiveness that is Donald Trump, climate change, and the Syrian refugee crisis? Should I give up on my writing, the thing that gives my soul life and depth and clarity, and dwell upon the negatives of life? Or should I skirt around the edges of life, like you, dear friend, channeling my energy into my hair and makeup and the latest trendy boots? No. I choose words. I choose to write. I choose characters and soul and the weaving of stories. This is where I find my truth.
Writing is where humans have found their truth for millennia. The act of quill on paper, stylus on clay tablet, chisel on tomb wall. And before writing, we painted our stories on cave walls 15,000 years ago. We humans are storytellers — that is what we do.
I suppose writing cannot really be explained to the nonwriter. And I am certainly not the one to do the explaining. But when it came time to choose, I chose writing. And I always will. It is, as one of my characters once said, “in my veins.”
So, I wish my friend well with her trendy boots and her newest mascara. I only wish, for one small moment, that she could feel the joy of creation — the spark — that comes from forming a beautiful sentence, an eloquent phrase, or from finding just the right word at just the right time. But she won’t. Because she is not a writer. She is a consumer of things, not a creator of things.
And creation, whether it be the telling of stories or the writing of music or the painting of pictures, is where beauty lies. I will not give up. I will not “focus on something else.” It is not who I am. I must be authentic to myself. And my self, my soul, is a writer.