Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted May 1, 2014

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a little understanding

I Am a Writer

by Spiritual Echo

"It's either the dog or me."

This phrase is so recognizable that is has become a cliche. Referring to a person's sudden adoration of a new pet, Rover is an unwelcome guest in the bedroom. Forget that it was a mutual decision; the jealous spouse becomes resentful of the attention paid to the dog.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes the 'dog' is a computer. Writers often experience the same negative backlash. They're thrown into the same dirty pool as lecherous men who surf the net for porn.

"Get off the damn computer!"

We've said it, we've heard it. Never mind that we see writing as a more altruistic calling, and the computer is the tool, our nearest and dearest consider it competition.

The writer, who may have spent a lifetime living inside a social structure that both enabled new dreams to be birthed--in our children--and endured the mundane functions of supporting a family, may be completely baffled by the resistance. After all, dinner's in the oven and the laundry is done. What is the problem?

The problem is 'change.' Whether your genre is fiction or poetry, in order to become good at this craft, a writer must shed layers and layer upon layer of habitual and social protocol. When a writer reaches the inner core, the sweet pulp of their innermost thoughts, their work begins to resonate with readers. In an instant, the reader can tell whether the writing is authentic.

Harlequin feeds on our need for romance. Stephen King taps into our deepest fears. Erica Leonard, also known as E. L. James, struck a chord with seventy million readers when her book of erotica, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' innocently slid onto the computer. Whether she experienced every sexual adventure she catalogued in her book or not, is irrelevant. She burrowed down and uncovered her fantasies and found millions of people who believed her.

Change has a way of slipping into everyday life. A writer, deeply engrossed with a character in her book. may suddenly find herself responding to situations differently. Contrary to what her closest people might think, it's not out of character at all. She's located some hidden desires or feelings that were dormant.

Perhaps it's not the change itself that causes re-examination of relationships, but the resistance of change. There's no reason to doubt that these relationships will survive, but imagine the shock of the placid audience when their mother or wife begins to box her way out of her assigned role. It's uncomfortable, even terrifying for the people who are observers in this metamorphoses.

Decades of comfortable responses are shattered and families who are struggling with this 'new writing thing' want it to go away. They want their old mom back. It's hard for a writer to articulate the inner stirrings of passions that are raging inside her head. She'll get frustrated and angry with herself; doubt her presumptions that she is a writer. "How can I call myself a writer if I can't explain it to my own family?"

Quite possibly, the answer is because of the writer's point on view. She's looking at the situation from inside out--in direct contrast to the POV of her family. The same people who can get caught up in a novel, reading it from cover to cover in one sitting, have difficulty understanding how the writer falls into the same trance--in reverse.

Is there hope for this family? Seriously, how would I know? I live alone and I'm not a psychiatrist. I can tell you this; in my world people relate to me as a grandmother, a retired executive or a friend. Few of them have the slightest interest in my writing.

I've been published, but my own son shows no interest in walking two blocks to pick up a newspaper that is running my story. Though it's a big deal to me, my first novel, 'Measuring Time' will begin a chapter by chapter serialization in 'Page and Spine' tomorrow. I've sent out notices to past colleagues and family members, but I already know they won't remember or read my book. They don't care.

That's not to say they don't care about me--they do. They care about Ingrid Thomson. They care how I feel and easily volunteer when I need help. They frankly don't care whether I'm a plumber, a writer or an astronaut. They care about me.

What about the other me--the writer? No, it doesn't work that way. I will continue to write regardless of whether anyone reads a thing I process on the screen. I'll do the laundry and expect no praise. And why? Because I AM a writer.


For purposes of this essay, I have used the pronoun HER, but it applies equally to both sexes.

The roses? They are compliments to myself, for myself, acknowledging my efforts.
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