When I decided to become a writer, I received a license to whine. More correctly, I gave myself a license to aggravate everyone I know with my whining. They can’t shut me up, unless they want to beat me to death with my laptop and toss my body in a ditch. I think they don’t do that because I threw a great New Year’s party one time, and they’re hoping I’ll throw another one.
I whine about having no ideas, having bad ideas, not enough time to write, how much time writing takes, writing myself into a corner, hating the characters I created, having to kill characters I love, not knowing how to end a story, finishing a story and being depressed about leaving it, and reading books that make me realize everything I’ve ever written sucked. But my most profound whining comes when friends and family fail to show a slavering interest in my work and my writing process.
Perhaps a friend never gives me feedback on the 200,000 word monster I forced on her. Maybe a friend took three months to review my story, when I know that during that time he read someone else’s novel in two days. I may know that a friend read my book until four pages from the end and then let it sit on the desk for a week. Some friend may finish and point out a dozen typos, and when I press for details all she says is, “I really liked it.”
At these times I become dejected, and I whine. The fact that other friends provide me fantastic help doesn’t seem to lift my gloom.
But today I realized something. Writing isn’t an ego-boosting activity. Writing isn’t a holy calling worthy of everyone’s attention. Writing is a job. How many people have jobs about which they expect their friends to get all enthused? Sure, all of my friends read, so I expect them to be interested in my writing. But say I was a plumber. All of my friends use the toilet, but I wouldn’t expect them to get excited about how I replaced a P-trap at work today.
So I’m resolving to whine less and work more. Perhaps my friends will stop pretending they’ve snorted salsa up their nose when I approach them at parties. That would be nice. I just have to keep in mind that when I’m writing, it’s no more than the social equivalent of fixing a toilet.