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Monday, August 20, 2012

Writers lead such a lonely life.

“Writers lead such a lonely life.”
  The lady sitting next to me at a women’s luncheon delivered those words with a sigh, a ‘you poor dear’ look, and a condescending tone. I glanced around the table to see more ‘poor dear’ looks and in my best terminal foot in mouth disease tone replied. “Exsqueeze me?  I don’t think so! I have so many people living in my head I can’t take a shower alone. They wake me up in the middle of a nap and at night to talk. Lonely? Nope.”   
   “What do you mean?” Another lady asked with genuine interest. “People in your head?
   Then I remembered people who are not writers don’t have friends and enemies living in their heads to talk with at any given time. Poor dears.  
   Needless to say, the topic for the rest of the luncheon was the rich life of the present day author. I explained between facebook and twitter I was in touch instantly with over fifteen hundred people around the world. Every day I could chat with almost the same number of my writer friends on private loops. People in the UK, Nova Scotia, Canada, every state in the US, South America, New Zealand and Australia. I heard about wild fires, earthquakes and many other events before it was announced on the news.  I blog and go to conferences.  I am not alone.
   They all nodded and asked questions but alas, it was like being at an air show. Everything flew over their heads.  Why?  Only one was on facebook. Two had heard of twitter. The others didn’t have a clue. All went blank over blogs and no one understood Yahoo loops.  Then came the question, “when do you find time to write?”
   Busted!  I’d been telling them about my old life. In uncharacteristic meekness I said, “I manage.”
  Here’s the rest of the story.
   Attempting to do all the required social media, promo blogs and write a book an agent, editor, publishing house could sell, my head felt like a melon at a Gallagher show. I honestly can tell you I like social media. That said, for me it's a mind drain drug. I'm looking at what other people are writing about, saying, doing, responding, being a chatty-cathy and lose my stories, myself.  I decided enough was enough and retreated.
   Don’t misunderstand what I said about editors and publishers. I get publishers wanting a commercial book. I’m just not one of those smart, savvy authors you can hand a topic and in three months hands back a book. The stories I write really do come from the people in my head. If I changed them for the sake of selling, instead of waking me up at three in the morning to talk, my H&H’s would bludgeon me to death. 
    A quick side bar here. If you hear I died in that manner please report to the authorities that it was one of my heroes or heroines so they won't be wasting their time looking for some poor sucker.
   The more I backed off from social media and other influences the happier I was with my writing. An injury, that forced me to take pain meds and muscle relaxants had me more loopy then normal and forced me to further reduced my contact with social media. That side effect was nothing compared to the side effect of enjoying my writing again.
   Soon I had adopted the Dog Whisperer's mantra for my Internet usage. No touch, no talk, no eye contact, until I was calm. I embarked on a wonderful summer vacation only doing the thing I wanted to do. Write!       Finally, I'm calm.
   I'm only now beginning to reconnect with the social media. This is my first blog in ages.
   I feel confident if I get too excited again the no touch, no talk, no eye contact, will bring be back in line.
   I have a suspicion there are more of us suffering from too much of something in their lives. If so, how do you deal?    


Shelley Munro said...

Non writers just don't get it, do they?
There is so much pressure to do everything. We see everyone else seeming to manage everything effortlessly and get guilty. I try to do my best and make time to write because that makes me happier. Outside of writing I try to get plenty of fresh air and exercise. I work better if I exercise.

Bottom line - I think all we can do is our best and forget about the guilt!

Maureen A. Miller said...

"Lonely"? I have to schedule alone time, which as you point out is a matter of turning off the computer. I sometimes enjoy picking up a pad and writing down a scene just to get away from the computer. OMG, I'm a relic!

Rita said...

I was letting the everyone else can do thing get to me. I can't do it all. I admire those that can.

Rita said...

last night I did exactly that. Finally, finally worked out the heroine's inner motivation. Yippee!

Shirley Wells said...

I've been keeping away from social media lately too. Hubby often comes home from work and asks if I've managed to get any work done. I tell him plenty and he asks how many words I've written. "Um, none. I've updated my website, posted on my blog, posted stuff on Twitter and Facebook ... but, um, no actual writing done."

I often switch everything off and sit down to write with good old-fashioned pen and paper. :)

Rita said...

Along with the time drain I felt it was taking my creativiry. Sitting ourside on the deck and writing long hand even a few sentences is strangely empowering.

Elise Warner said...

It takes another writer to understand how real our characters are to us. And it is so easy to get caught up in social media. I am finally learning to work on my actual writing before anything else (well...maybe coffee first)and leave the media for whatever extra time is available.

Anti Money Laundering said...

Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.

Marcelle Dubé said...

That's how I work out my blocks: pen and paper (and comfy chair). There's something about the act of writing that seems to loosen the concrete blocks in my mind.

And I write on a computer that is never connected to email or Internet. It's my "creating" computer. Any other work (blogging, web site updates, or even connecting with social media), is done on the "business" computer.

It works for me.

Rita said...

Have your ever shopped for a character? I was in the men's department and saw a shirt my hero would like. Yikees! I didn't buy it BTW.

Rita said...


Rita said...

This is a very good idea. I've been thinking about having a lap top to do my creating. But, I'd need to get a newer one.The one I have is 6 years old and wonky.

Anne Marie Becker said...

" head felt like a melon at a Gallagher show."

LOL, Rita. Exactly. I've found limiting my social time to a certain amount a day - or, better yet, making sure I do my writing work first - works best for me. Of course, I probably don't do that most days, but hey, I'm working on it! :)

Rita said...

Anne Marie
I'm determined to do better. I'm a slow learned. It may take awhile.

Clare London said...

Excellent post, Rita, and sobering to think I've been letting the soacial media things take over again :). I can't find enough quiet time to think over my characters' motivations, and now I'm behind with the book I was writing. So my next week's holiday is going to be me sending off my son and GF to swim and sunbathe, while I sit and tap away on the trusty laptop!

Zathyn Priest said...

When my first couple of books were published, I made the mistake of trying to keep up with social media, etc. At that stage I was under the impression it was expected of me and not a choice. I’m a shy person by nature and not a social type. It resulted in burnout and very nearly put an end to my writing career. Of course, not everyone suffers the same stresses involved with keeping up with social media... some even thrive off it. In the end it boils down to doing what works for you as an individual and not feeling guilty about it if it differs from what works for others. I’m as active on FaceBook as suits me, I rarely use Twitter, and I’m one of the world’s worst bloggers. But I’m okay with that now and don’t feel pressured to post updates every day/hour/minute.

Great post :)

Rita said...

Good luck on the motivation. I am digging deeper on my heroines inner motivation today. Betrayal is the key word.

Rita said...

Except for the shy thing we could be sister seperated at birth. Hearing others experienc the same feelings is helpful.
Thanks for taking the time to post.

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