Saturday, February 23, 2008

The importance of support

As writers, we are necessarily loners. We have to be. It's not only the creating part that requires solitude but also the sheer time it takes to put those ideas on paper and then finesse those words into a story. I'd wager to say that most writers prefer their own characters to real people.

What's not to like? They come from your own mind, you're their God, even though if you've done your job well they develop a will of their own and often drive the story instead of you. Every character you invent, even the very evil ones, come from a small part of your psyche, even if you couldn't imagine doing one thing in real life those characters are doing.

Real people, well they're... real. Unreadable. Uninventable. Uncontrollable. That's tough for a writer who's used to control his or her world.

I've never been good in social situations, and up until a few years ago had difficulty getting past extreme shyness. What people took as standoffishness was simply pure terror. I've worked hard at overcoming that, with mitigated success. I also live in a different culture than I grew up in and sometimes I just don't get it. Them.

But there are also times when I feel lost and completely alone in a world (the writing world) where it is almost impossible to succeed in, and I end up sitting at my computer thinking "what the fuck am I doing this for"? Problem is, I can't see myself having a regular nine-to-five job (been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the burnout), so what else is there?

To me, that's where the Internet comes in. It has been, truly, a miracle for me. I belong to several groups, some with similar interests, some out of whimsy, some out of reaching out to different people. There's LiveJournal and Facebook, but there's also my Publishers Yahoo! Group and my SF Canada group. These groups provide me with contact from across the world, give me different perspectives on things because of culture, age, geographical differences.

So if I need to whine (very unattractive, I know) or ask for advice or information, there are dozens of people there to help. They may not replace physical contact, and I often need that from the few friends I have in my town, but they can be there at the touch of a button.

This week I was in a fug and needed a pep talk. I approached a fellow SFer through email and asked him for advice. He doesn't know me, in the sense that we've only communicated through our SF Canada group, but he very generously took the time to respond and give me a boost. He not only gave me a pep talk but gave me some very concrete suggestions that have perked me tremendously.

So if you're a lone writer out there and you feel alone in the wilderness, think about the various means you can communicate through the Internet. You'll often get support without criticism and generosity and kindness you wouldn't encounter on your street.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

I also tend to be shy and many people see that as standoffish, but thankfully the net helps me to break the ice without actually approaching someone in person.:)

The internet may not be perfect and there are plenty of freaks out there, but the fact that you can instantly reach out to any community is a definite plus!