Nef on my message board asked if anyone has to justify themselves to their family and friends, where writing is concerned. It’s a simple question, but it made me angry when I read the question and I thought I’d write a post about it here.
A workmate might laugh at us, when we say we write fantasy stories. A friend’s eyes might glaze over as soon as they realise we’re going to tell them something about our current work in progress. A family member might say “why are you wasting your time on that stuff”. Or, a surprise visitor doesn’t see the importance when you tell them you were busy writing the climax of your novel. We’ve all suffered something along these lines at some stage. But why should we justify ourselves?
When I was married I did all my writing in secret. I told no-one that I had written two 200,000 word manuscripts. I showed no-one a single word of those pages. However, one day I approached my then husband and asked if he would read the first chapter of one of them and give me his thoughts. He rolled his eyes and said “No!” This was followed shortly after with my very first rejection. I stuffed the manuscripts in a dark corner and gave up writing. I didn’t have confidence in myself, or my writing, and the reaction from my husband and the rejection letter proved that I was useless.
Within twelve months my marriage was over and the last thing on my mind was writing, but I’m not getting into that side of the story.
Then, eighteen months later, I met G. One day he discovered that I liked to write and he encouraged me to do just that. With his support, I turned back to my stories and, at the same time, we discovered the internet. Better still, I discovered that I wasn’t alone and there were people just like me who were willing to talk about writing. This built my confidence to new levels and I found myself telling my family and friends what I did in the evenings.
Surprisingly, my family were very supportive. They believe I’ll make them all rich one day. Shows you how much they know about writing. However, my best friend was the opposite. She asked me why, she even let slip a tiny laugh, but it was the look on her face that I’ll never forget. Up until that day, we could talk about anything and everything, but now, that’s no longer true. I stopped trying to justisfy why I write and eventually decided that if she couldn’t be supportive, then I wouldn’t share any of my journey with her. It seems she’s quite happy with this arrangement, because she never asks me how things are going.
And that’s the reason why Nef’s question made me angry. Why should I *not* discuss the one thing that I love? I let her rabbit on about whatever she pleases, but I’m not given the same courtesy. Why do other people feel they know what’s best for us? What, in fact, do they know about writing in the first place? I’ll tell you. Very little.
Never be ashamed of what you do. Be proud. And one day, when you are rich and famous… or just published, you can tell them where to go (in a nice way, of course). 🙂