Dear Writer Revisited: Letter Fifteen

Writers are Different

This chapter begins to get into some heavy territory for me.  It asks all the questions I constantly ask myself, particularly during moments of self doubt, beginning with:

Is it possible to be a writer and have a job?

To me, the short answer is yes, because it has to be.  The sheer volume of unpublished manuscripts out there is enough to make my hair stand on end.  I know people who have left jobs that were sapping their energy creatively, and I applaud them.  I think these people are the ones with the guts to go all the way.  But as for me?  I couldn't handle all those unknowns.

Virginia's advice to Writer provides some comfort.  Yes, she says, it is possible, so long as the job doesn't take so much out of you that you are an empty husk incapable of writing.  Chekov provides an interesting anecdote.  He was a writer AND a medical doctor, thinking of one as his wife and the other his mistress.  (Guess which was which?)

Writing, you sassy bitch.

The definitive answer is not very definitive at all; do what you must, so long as you are whole hearted in your desire to write.  

This is a response that I can easily live with.

The next question is more confronting still.  Think about the things in your life that get in the way of your writing, and ask yourself:

Are you allowing yourself to be stopped?

If so, desist.  You are not a writer if you only think about writing.  I must add to this that you are not a writer if you merely talk about writing all the time to anyone who will listen.  So get your head in the game.  

Finally, and most subjective of all:

Is it possible to have normal relationships when you are a writer?

This is such a tough question, but I think it is going to vary a lot from person to person.  Needing to drop everything and write can at times be super hard on relationships, but I have also listened to a lot of writers talk about how supportive and inspirational their partners are.  None more so than Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer.  While Virginia counsels writer that she can't relate to people and write well, I, as a romantic optimist, encourage you to be like Neil and Amanda and love, and create, and love creating.