Well, we've rushed into 2011 with much fanfare and although many of the bloggers around me are busy writing about their New Years Resolutions (mine can be found floating around a random forum somewhere, I'm sure) I am going to skip that train and move on to something that I know I'll actually follow through on.
Writing is a lonely business, no matter how you slice it. Sure, you accumulate a slew of proof-readers, editors and readers with thoughtful comments and feedback along the way; but when you are actually engrossed in the act of writing - the work of it - it's all you, baby. Writing is most often a silent and private affair comprised of overwhelming amounts of caffeine, staring blankly out the window and spinning slowly in an office chair staring at one's feet and wondering when inspiration will strike.
...And God forbid you actually get words down on paper! Then you have to go through days (or months) of nail-biting anxiety while you wait to bear back on your submitted manuscripts, articles and columns, telling your friends and family that you are excited at the prospect of being published in Magazine X while secretly you cringe every time you open your e-mail or mailbox for fear that another rejection letter is waiting for you.
As I have experienced all of these things, and will continue to experience them, I have discovered that there are two ways of handling the effects of having such a solitary profession.
Option 1: Become a "lone wolf" who decorates in sequins and mirrors, falling into a pattern of self-depreciation that leaves people to describe you as "odd and eccentric", losing all sense of reality and the capability of interacting with grocery store clerks and bank tellers.
Option 2: Find some other writer who also hasn't yet made it big, is struggling to put their own words on paper and who also feels like every rejection letter they receive rips a seam in the fabric holding their being together. Commiserate with this person about the misery of distractions, frozen thoughts and lack of ideas. Secretly dump all of your angst and anxiety on one another so that each of you in turn can help prop up the other's ego and pride, allowing both of you to move with your lives without the rabid monkey of self-doubt gnawing at your back.
I have been fortunate to befriend a handful of other writers who are happy to join me in the celebration and frustration of writing. Some are further down the path of "writer" than I; with stories published in books and monthly streams of income that allow them the finer things in life (like store-bought bread and matching socks). Some of them are just starting out on their journey and are waiting for their first big break I have discovered with these other writers a rare form of kinship that is as much about being miserable together as it is about being joyous. As equally about selfishly ranting on about an editor who hates the word "moist" as it is about lending a kind ear and a shoulder to cry on.
If you are a writer, and if you're reading this blog on the regular you probably are, then the next time you find yourself staring at a blank screen and suffering the taunts of a blinking cursor, take a break for a moment and find a forum for writers who share your woe. I always welcome the kinship of other writers too, so feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook if you'd like to connect. While it's true that friendship with another writer may not help you to complete those 600 words due by midnight any faster - it will at least help you to know that you aren't going at it alone.