We writer types are a strange bunch some times. Writing itself is a solitary affair, one we make more so as we find our quiet place and don’t let anyone see what we’ve written; keep it hidden until we think it is perfect. At least perfect enough to be let out into the world.
I am always looking for validation for my writing. It took me such a long time to call myself a writer, even when I was doing almost nothing but writing my book I was embarrassed to take on the title. Now I find that many people no longer ask about the progress of the book. It could be for many reasons … they no longer believe I’m writing one or they become tired of hearing me say “I’m working on revisions”. I used to think the same way, I mean I wondered, how long could a few revisions really take. Believe me it can take a long time.
I find myself uncomfortable with bringing the subject up myself of my writing, fearing that it just seems too silly and self absorbed. Maybe that is why I find such solace in the She Writes community. There are 8,000 other women who know how it feels, who will ask about my writing because they know about the need to feel acknowledged.
I was just in Philadelphia for several days, there to attend my nephew’s wedding, which was lovely. One of the days, I went to the Borders downtown and although I was there to buy books for other people, I found myself drawn almost magnetically to the section of books about writing. There was a woman standing there, certainly a stranger to me. As I walked up and began to scan the titles, she looked at me and said, “Are you a writer?” I immediately answered “Yes.” There was no fear that she would question me, she didn’t know me.
This woman then began to tell me that she had been working on a memoir for quite a long time but it had become too painful, she was stuck and needed to put it down and write something else. This stranger and I had a conversation as if we were longtime friends, having this writing thing in common, both understanding about being stuck, about the painful parts of writing your story.
She finally said she had to go. I told her about She Writes and the support she might find there. She told me how happy she was to have talked to me, wished me luck on my own memoir and she left. I realized in looking back at it that she hardly even looked at the books in the store, she really was there looking for someone to recognize her, to acknowledge what she was doing, to look at her as a writer.
I imagine her now, going home to put the memoir in a drawer for a bit and let it rest and begin to work on some other writing, feeling at least a little bit better having met someone else she could relate to, who gave her “permission” to set the memoir aside and write whatever she felt like writing.
I never got her name but I am grateful to her, she also recognized me as a writer and I didn’t have to ask her to do so. She didn’t look at me with that roll of the eyes when I explained that I was in the revision process, she understood it.
Maybe we will find each other again one day, if not in person than in each other’s writing. I have some revisions to go do.