Hello, dear readers. A knotty problem today, waiting for your thoughts.
A blog I follow has a post about a problem that many writers I know (and many more that I’ve only read about in biographies) seem to run into (in Western cultures particularly – some day we’ll have to talk about why there’s so much variation in attitude between cultures). The author describes the problem like this:
You see, friends, my immediate family simply doesn’t understand me. They don’t know why I like to do what I do. They don’t have any interest in things that I love. They just barely fall short of making fun of me for doing what I am so passionate about..It’s all about being true to oneself, isn’t it? Rarely an easy thing to do, but made even more difficult when those immediately around you will not lovingly accept it.
The trope of the Misunderstood Writer has a long and venerable history. But behind the trope is a truth that many writers live and struggle with every day. It’s a little annoying when you’re confronted by a relative stranger at a party or a school meeting who comes out with: “You’re a writer. How do you pay the bills?” or “I don’t remember hearing your name – are you any good?” But it’s just plain hard when this vibe comes from someone you care about, or love and trust, or someone to whom you’ve devoted your own life.
I want to dispel a potential misunderstanding here: the author of the blog, Cooper Robbins*, is not a whiny wanna-be (“If I only had a supportive family, I’d be a best-seller, but no, I’m so beat by the end of the day I’d rather watch re-runs”); this is an author whose creative life includes a novel, a screenplay, and a fair amount of “&c,” on top of maintaining a home and taking care of young ones. Her post (and this post) aren’t about people who want to be writers but don’t write…this is about how we as writers keep writing in the face of resistance from those whose opinions we most value.Robbins does this in part by developing and participating in supportive writing communities – in a way, that’s what her blog is about. Some people (and I include myself here) have a sort of damn-the-torpedoes approach, which generally involves shutting certain people out of the creative part of one’s life. Other people hermit (to hermit: to isolate one’s self, creating a shell, and then decorating it with camouflaging materials, such as PTA meetings or banker’s three-piece suits, as needed).
So here’s my question. What do you do? What advice would you give to Cooper Robbins about how to cope with being surrounded by people who are either baffled or skeptics? NOTE: The poll should let you vote for as many choices as you want – if it doesn’t let you, tell me and I’ll go give it a strong talking to 🙂 [IOB: ina]
*unsurprisingly, this is a nom de plume – sometimes everyone needs a place to vent. I happen to have a venting blog too, and no, I don’t link it to my name and, no, I haven’t and won’t link it to this blog. Which probably says something, don’t you think?