Like a Newborn Screaming
Writing is a lonely business.
I know I’m not the first author to write those words, much less think those words. Before I wrote my novels, I thought that this phrase referred to the process of writing being lonely. You can’t rely on anyone but yourself, your talent, your vocabulary, your research. I mean, the process of composing music is devastatingly lonely, so why would writing words be any different?
But writing, for me, isn’t lonely. Especially not when I’m writing about Q and the boys. They keep me company. Sometimes, they’re more real than the people I encounter every day. And even when I’m drafting manuals or technical articles, it’s not lonely either, because I’m imagining the person reading them. What they’re most interested in learning. What worries they may have. How I can make their day just a little easier.
So, no. Writing, in and of itself, is not a lonely business. But writing is just the beginning. It’s the gestation, not the birth. Release a novel sometime, and you’ll understand why newborns scream bloody murder when they come into the word. Because you see, the business of writing is a cold and lonely hellscape of desolation.
Why? Because that, my friends, is where only your intestinal fortitude holds you upright. That is where you must say you did something good. Something to be proud of. Something worth all that time and energy you spent doing it. And guess what? Most days, you and only you are the person validating your work.
Don’t believe me? Most of my friends have not read my books.
Let that sink in for a minute.
My husband has not read a single one of my books, blogs, or articles. (And it’s an ongoing point of contention in our marriage, but still, not a one.)
I’ve often wondered why that is. And I don’t have to really think that hard about it. I know why. They are all terrified of being the only person in my life to look me in the eye and say, “Your books suck.”
That is how much the people in your life love you, folks. They’d rather hope that maybe you have a ton of talent and are not, in fact, wasting your time on an art form you should abandon, than actually find out for themselves that you don’t have a lick of talent and be forced to tell you that you should quit or, worse still, smile politely and lie to your face.
The logic goes something like this: I’ll tell this person whom I love that I’m proud of them, but I won’t read the book, just in case it sucks.
Still don’t believe me? I used to live in terror of having to listen to my friends’ albums. I still do. I’m picky. I used to be a professional audio engineer, and it makes me hear things all funny. For example, a friend sent me his new track a few months ago, and it had a terrible phasing issue (if you don’t know what that means, trust me, you’d rather not know, because then you’ll hear it, like all the time); and I debated for ten solid minutes before I erased my text that read, “hey, the string part is out of phase with the bassline and that breakbeat is about 1/32 out of time for half a measure at 1:38," and replaced it with “Love it!!!”
And it gets worse. I literally ranted about how poorly one of my friends’ last albums was mixed to my coworkers for twenty minutes one afternoon. "The guitar solo is always the loudest thing in the mix!! How could they be doing this for so long and so successfully without learning that one little thing? Who the hell mixes a metal record without automating levels? Seriously, what in the good fuck is that??"
And did I say that to their faces? Hell, no. I told them the new record was great. Because it was and it was too late to fix it anyway, I mean it was already out there. And besides, it wasn’t their fault their engineer has his head up his ass. And I can’t tell them that either because they love him and I’m sure he’s a lovely person if they love him so much they don’t care that he can’t mix their guitars properly. And that would make me the bad guy. And I don’t want to be the bad guy.
You see what I mean? Terror. Absolute terror.
So, I get it. I truly understand why only the bravest of my friends reads my books and, even braver still, tells me where I fell short (I’m looking at you, Heather and Jim. You’re both god damn warriors). Unfortunately, it also means that, by and large, I am the only person in my life that reads the words I write and knows that I should continue. And that’s ok. Because, in this particular endeavor, it’s my talent that keeps me up at night. My talent that tells me to wake up at five in the morning and write, even though it’s hard.
Because, even if one of my friends told me my books were terrible, it wouldn’t matter. Because I don’t do this for them. I do this for me. It was the same with music. And, looking back on the things I recorded, I can see where I fell short. But I can also see where I succeeded. And that’s a great feeling.
“I am creating” is so much more powerful to me than “I am succeeding.”
I succeed when I create something I am proud of. Something that I want to share with the world. Something that gives me so much inner joy that the people who love me most are terrified to read it and tell me otherwise.
But the joke’s on them. Because they’re missing out. Don’t believe me? Click on this link and find out for yourself.