Writers are a lonely breed. We spend all day in our own heads, usually isolated, living in dream worlds and parallel universes where we play God. It’s a pretty heady experience, actually, and I think few of us would wish to change it.
But what it also means is that, except for our families, who may or may not wish to listen to our latest travails about how a character is not playing well with others, or how writing 1000 words was like swimming through sludge, or how you spent the whole day trying to figure out how to kill someone only to realize you needed him to be alive, there is no one really to talk to. There are no fellow employees standing around a water cooler, bitching about their boss or debating where to have lunch. There’s no one who really understands the life you live, or the inherent frustrations—your critique partner’s comments that your plot sucks, or the social networking that takes up too much time, or the copyedit that makes you want to shoot someone—except other writers.
But we’re loners as well. Anyone who runs any writers organization will tell you how difficult we are to herd. And I think it’s hard for us sometimes to admit how much we have in common, and how good it is to talk with someone who truly understands. I was reminded of this very recently, when a friend and I decided to cohost a brunch for some fellow authors. The discussion went something like this:
“I would love to talk to so-and-so about this-writing-thing.”
“So would I. But I never see her except in a crowd.”
“Maybe we should invite her over for coffee or something.”
Silence. Then, “You mean like … to have a conversation?”
“I think so. Well, yes, why not? And since we’re asking her, let’s ask so-and-so and so-and-so.”
Which we did. And given the reactions of those writers we invited over, it was as odd for them to get such an invitation as it was for us to extend it. But when these fellow-authors showed up for a sunny-day brunch, it was a much-needed respite from isolation, and a reminder again, of how much we have in common, and how we can help each other through rejection, uncertainty, and fear. Sometimes it’s true that only another writer can understand.
No man is an island, even when you’re a god.
Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. The Best Reviews has said she writes “Fascinating historical fiction.” Her books have been chosen for the Borders Original Voices program and IndiBound’s Booksense. A former television news photographer with a BA from Western Washington University, Megan Chance lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters. Find her at: http://www.MeganChance.com.