Welcome to our newest contributor, Matt Williams!
“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing.”–Ernest Hemingway
Who am I to disagree with one of the greats? Seriously, I’m asking because I’m disagreeing with him wholeheartedly. When you think of a writer, many of the first images to be conjured are the traditional pictures of a lone man or woman hunched over a desk with a cup of coffee, an open laptop, and more bags under their eyes than a Michael Korrs store. In some ways this is the actual life of a writer. Writing is solitary. You pitted against the blank page in a to-the-death competition. There’s no denying that. But so is reading, yet many images of readers are a group of people in a book club. They share their experiences and love of one particular thing that they love. It brings them closer together to each other and to their love of reading. Heck, even gamers have moved from a rather solitary pastime to a more open world with people from all over the world connecting online.
So why do they get to have all the fun?
A couple of weeks ago I turned thirty and a few random numbers. As usual, with family around I had a great day, but then the ugly side of life wanted to rear its head. My daughter had to have emergency dental surgery, my mother started to go blind in one eye, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my girlfriend went to the hospital as her body may be rejecting her transplanted organs. As you can imagine writing, with all of this going on, was the last thing I wanted to think about. However I did. And not only thought about doing, but achieved it.
How? (I’m pretending you’re asking so humor me a bit). I managed to get through it by having a support system, many of whom were going through the ordeals mentioned. My mother still questioned me to make sure I’m going forward in terms publishing my first book next year. With all of the tests my girlfriend is going through she still asks about my word count and making sure one of her favorite characters is still alive. When I don’t post a picture of me writing at some point in the day via Instagram or Facebook people start emailing or DMing me to make sure everything is okay.
My life is a lonely one. I’m quiet and introverted, I can speak better through written word then I can with my mouth. It’s not easy for me to open up to anyone at all. I love writing, but my writing can’t tell me it’ll be okay. My writing won’t be there with a hug and a hot cup of coffee. But through writing and my love of it, it’s drawn others to me in a way that’s indescribable. And I’m totally grateful for this.
Life is going to happen, good and bad. And as much as you may want to shoulder it all by yourself the fact is you need others to carry you as well at some points. You can’t keep yourself locked away like a set of fine china to never be touched. Step away from the computer from time to time. Make a connection. Then go back to the computer and make another connection online before you resume writing. Sherlock needs his Watson. Batman needs Alfred and Robin. Frodo needed his Samwise. Writing is a journey, and we all need a little help sometimes. But you have to be willing to expose yourself to someone else. It may not improve the quality of your writing, but it can keep you writing, keep you sane, and keep you happy in the long run. To me that’s a grand improvement.
So who’s ready to build their writing community? All you have to do is be willing to dip a toe into the treacherous waters of the unknown.
Stay writeous everyone!