This is not a positive sort of post–my apologies. Most of the time, I feel inspired about my writing and you will see those posts about “believing in yourself.” I like writing those, I like the idea of people reading those. But these past couple of weeks? I’ve been wrapped in some self-doubt. I hate self-doubt, but it’s not going to go away if I ignore it either. And since I don’t want it to show up in my writing–it’s going to show up here.
The self-doubt is going to show up with some legal of negativity. Maybe this isn’t too comfortable to read, but maybe there’s an ounce of truth in it.
These days, my life is school, work, writing, and my family (and more specific than that: my husband, for I pitifully neglect my parents and brother). I have become a horrible friend as my dedication to writing has increased.
Those who suffer the most are my “non-writing” friends, even though many times they are the inspiration for so may ideas and stories. When I am obsessing about my writing most of the time, it’s hard for me to make room for anything else. Bleah.
So that leaves me with writing friends as the core of my social life. This is a precarious center. I can talk about my novel, about the craft of writing, share resources–but how easy it to really be friends as writers? (And before I begin to explore this question, I want to CLEARLY state that I am blessed with a few excellent, wonderful, loyal, kind, and intelligent writer friends who lie outside of this questioning).
But for the most part–what kind of precarious center have I placed at the center of my social circle? The “writing pie” is not very big, writers are scrambling for any piece they can get. The investment is high, the returns are low. The criteria are mostly subjective. The heart is vulnerable. The writers are jealous and competitive of each other.
I have many writing acquaintances who I do not bother to ask for help anymore. I know they won’t provide help (or if they do, they will provide JUST ENOUGH to avoid judgment). Cocktail party banter could be more meaningful.
Then there are the offers for help. “Oh, I have a friend who is a writer at such and such magazine, you should submit your story there!” said a friend.
“Oh really?” I ask. I take her up on her offer. Weeks go by, no answer. “What did your friend say?”
My friend emails back, “Oh, sorry. My friend is totally competitive and didn’t give out my info, she gets like that.” Of course. I feel jerked around, naively surprised. Why was I even surprised, after all this time? I ended finding my own leads.
A friend loves to ask me to read her manuscripts. I’ve read quite a few of hers–and I would not count except that she does not read many of mine. Somehow, there’s been a convenient excuse to not read my stories. Once she did read a story of mine and she said she’d give me the feedback “soon.” It never came. I’m trying to not read too much into that.
These are benign examples. Worse are the people who give patronizing feedback, intention being to NOT help the writer get any better, but to appease them. I could go on, but now I’m starting to feel more bummed out, and I’ve got to stop!
I’m not perfect either. I get busy, and can’t get back to all my friends or to every manucript, but I apologize profusely and I’ve become a lot better at setting boundaries and expectations with these things. I get jealous too, even though I HATE that side of me. Shouldn’t I just focus on my own work and get on with it?
So what’s left? Hole up? Don’t make any more writing friends? Make more friends outside of writing? Catch up with my old friends? Get some balance into my life?
Or of course, there’s the old adage: count your blessings!