No one understands me …

… like another writer.

Everyone knows that writing is a lonely business, a solitary pursuit that is not for those who need other people around them.

I don’t mind being alone with my computer or notepad – I quite like my own company. But some sort of evolutionary process has made us humans into social beings who, occasionally, need interaction with like-minded people.

And ‘like-minded’ can be the difficult bit. I have a lovely family but they are not writers and have no interest in the literary world, bar a library book to read before bed. So it’s difficult to share with them the ups and downs of a writer’s life.

I don’t tell my husband about every rejection I receive or every competition in which I fail to even make the short-list. He’d probably ask me why I was bothering to write anything at all. But, to justify the time I spend at the keyboard, I do tell him in great detail about every success, however tiny. But that doesn’t count as an interaction with a like-minded person.

That’s why it’s so liberating when I get to meet up with another writer, especially one who shares the same interests as me. How good it is to talk to someone who knows the difference between a story for People’s Friend and one for Take a Break. How nice it is to see the sympathy in someone’s eyes when you tell them about the rejection of a story that you were sure had been absolutely perfect for your chosen market.  And how great to share news of a success!

And it’s absolutely wonderful to talk to someone who doesn’t see writing as your little ‘eccentricity’ that you are indulging in now that the children are almost grown-up.

I’m very lucky in having a great writing buddy in Helen. Last week we had our quarterly catch-up and target-setting. Back home I’m thinking I was too ambitious in my targets – probably caused by the over-enthusiasm generated by talking to another writer.  But never mind – it will do me good to aim high.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a virtual friend in person for the first time. I got to know Sharon via this blog and discovered she lived in the same town where I was brought up. So last time I was in the area we met for coffee. Sharon runs Fiction Addiction – an online critique group for womag writers. It was good to put a face to a name and share the trials and tribulations of trying to get published!

So how do you feed the need to share the frustrations and joys of writing? Are you lucky enough to have a like-minded partner or maybe you let off steam on a writers’ forum?

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  1. #1 by Rob Innis on March 17, 2013 - 9:51 am

    Yes I have made ‘internet’ friends mostly those involved with writing or selling books – some of whom I have now met. It certainly brings the world closer together!

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:21 pm

      The internet is a wonderful thing, Rob. It’s great for finding like-minded people.

  2. #3 by shirleyelmokadem on March 17, 2013 - 11:12 am

    I have two writing buddies that I met at the Swanwick writing week a few years ago. They don’t live too close to me though so we rely on emails and phone. It would be nice to find someone a bit closer who writes, to meet up for coffee now and then, to discuss writing projects. My family aren’t that interested in my writing at all.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:23 pm

      Shirley, I’m glad I’m not the only one with an ‘uninterested family’! Have you looked for a writing group near to you?

  3. #5 by Wendy Clarke on March 17, 2013 - 11:22 am

    Hi Sally. What you say is so true. I end up not wanting to talk about my writing too much in case I bore my non-writing friends but I do bore my husband with both the ups and downs! Like you, I found out that one of my blogger ‘friends’ Tracy Fells from the Literary Pig, lived in the village tnext o mine. We met up for coffee and talked writing for ages. Through her, I also went to my first talk at West Sussex Writers, which was very inspiring (and of course meant I had other writers to takl to).

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:25 pm

      I didn’t realise that you and Tracy lived close. That must have been great to meet up and know that you wouldn’t bore her with writing talk!

  4. #7 by Lesa Clarke on March 17, 2013 - 11:29 am

    Sally, I know so well the feelings you express in this post. My family listen when I talk about the writing but I know they don’t really get it. I joined some online writing groups but it’s not the same as having a writing partner. Through blogging I recently met another local writer, we’ve met in person and attended a writing workshop. We’ve also started connecting with some other local writers so are enjoying having people to bounce ideas off, discuss writing news and things we’ve learnt. It’s energizing knowing someone who shares the writing bug.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:26 pm

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, Lesa. Connecting with other writers gives enthusiasm a boost and generates energy. Best wishes with the new group.

  5. #9 by Julia on March 17, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Sally, you’re striking lots of chords there. I’m lucky to live with an avid reader, but even so I fight shy of giving him a blow by blow account of my writing trials and tribulations. But I have a lovely friend Elaine who is an artist and poet, and we’ve shared many a supportive cup of coffee over the years.

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:27 pm

      Long may your friendship with Elaine continue, Julia!

  6. #11 by Julia on March 17, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    I feel the same way. You describe that lack of understanding very well. But I have been so persistent that my loved ones – at least the closest ones – are starting to accept it… and even encourage the writing.

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:28 pm

      That’s brilliant, Julia, – get them converted to encourage you and that must make life so much easier!

  7. #13 by Anne Harvey on March 17, 2013 - 4:35 pm

    Encouraging comments, Sally, and so true. Like you, I have little reaction from my family, though my husband is very supportive, he’d be bored silly if I told him every little writing worry or whether my writing for the day has gone well. As for writing buddies, all mine are virtual ones although a few, yourself included, I have met and really value their company.

    • #14 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:30 pm

      It seems like we all suffer the same way, Anne. That makes it extra special when we do get to meet up. And what would we do without the internet to keep us in touch in the meantime!

  8. #15 by susan jones. on March 17, 2013 - 6:49 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I’ve learned not to show family my writing as they look at me strange and pull faces… That’s if they’re being kind. To be fair though, they all call me a ‘writer’ but it’s not long before they talk about Agatha Christie didn’t start writing until she was older, and when will you publish a book. ”’AAAArrrrggggghhhhh…… At least I can write about them to let off steam. It’s great to have blog friends and forums to discuss our work as well. I used to go to a writing class, but found the big mouths did all the talking and I would sit there wishing I was at home to write…

    • #16 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:31 pm

      Susan, I get fed up of being asked when I’m going to produce the best-seller as well. People who don’t write, don’t realise how hard it is!

  9. #17 by blogaboutwriting on March 17, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Sally, I agree with everything you say!! (especially the bits about me! Only joking!!). Even some of my writing friends don’t understand about submitting to women’s magazines and/or competitions, so it’s great when you can find someone who not only likes writing – and writes – but is interested in the same ‘field’ of writing as you! Then they understand!!

  10. #19 by Patsy on March 18, 2013 - 9:22 am

    Your version of what you tell your husband is exactly like the version of events I give mine. He’s very supportive but doesn’t really understand fiction writing.

  11. #20 by Tracy Fells on March 19, 2013 - 10:53 am

    I find blogging and Facebook brings me closer to other writers. You are so right that only other writers really understand the ups and downs of this profession. My family are always interested, but their eyes can glaze as I whine on about certain markets and tardy editors. I recently met up with a local writer, Wendy Clarke (she’s commented above) – it was weird to find she lived in the next village but so lovely to talk with another womag writer who knew exactly what I was talking about without translation!

    • #21 by Sally Jenkins on March 19, 2013 - 1:56 pm

      It’s wonderful that you and Wendy have met up, Tracy – I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future!

  12. #22 by Debbie Young on March 19, 2013 - 6:01 pm

    Sally, what a brilliant post! It really resonated with me. Much as I love my husband, I am slightly irritated that he barely reads anything I write and doesn’t even know the URL of my personal website, even though it’s very easy to remember, not least because it includes his surname – youngbyname (dot) me. I get my revenge by making jokes at his expense on it! How very grown up of me (not). He IS proud of my achievement but just doesn’t feel the need to read it – even though I’m expected to notice and admire everything he does! Fortunately my frustration is assuaged by my dad being my number one fan, texting me when he’s read and enjoyed the latest post and printing it off so that my technophobe mum can read it! Families, eh? It’s tempting sometimes to put them all in a book…

    • #23 by Sally Jenkins on March 19, 2013 - 7:06 pm

      Debbie, glad I’m not the only one with a husband who doen’t read what I write! Like your dad, my mum follows my blog and is always telling me how wonderful it is! So I suppose we should be grateful that our parents are impressed, even if our partners take no interest.

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