The great divide

I recently had a thought and question that I decided I wanted to pose to our writer-followers out there. We’ve spent plenty of time on this blog discussing the merits of social networking and the positive effect they can have on a writer’s career—oftentimes that boost to promotion that many new releases need, both before and after they’re published. But there is, of course, the other half who just don’t get it. In many ways, social networking is just one of those things that can be difficult to explain, and unless you’re in the middle of it, you may not completely understand it.

So if someone is attempting to enumerate the values of social networking to another who might never fully comprehend, it feels like this parallels, in certain ways, to the dilemma of the writer.  Being so entrenched in your work, the nuances and method, and so absorbed in the process of getting published, it can be challenging to discuss with someone—a family member or friend—who is not a writer. Because, admittedly, they have no idea what it’s like. They probably don’t get it, and even if you try to explain, it may never completely click.

So I guess I’m curious to know: do you ever feel this kind of isolation when it comes to your writing and the rest of the world?

9 Responses to The great divide

  1. Sometimes. It’s a little easier with other creative types, like artists and illustrators, because they understand some of the same pressures. My non-writing/creative friends and family are supportive, but sometimes a little too much so; they just do the encouraging “of course you’re going to succeed!” or “I bet your book is amazing!” speeches and don’t have a mental concept of the intricacies of weaving a story, getting it written, and then getting it published. With other writers, I can talk about a specific challenge at any step along this process and they’ll understand what I’m talking about, but most of the people outside that world have never thought about it and are a bit clueless about the process.

  2. For me at least, that’s why I have try to have lots of writer friends and lots of nonwriter firends. It’s not that I feel isolated with non-writers. I just find that when I talk to them, I don’t focus on things that have little meaning to them–rewrites, deadlines, marketing, etc. They are much more interested in what the next book is about, when its release date is, and upcoming events. In fact in some ways it’s nice to talk to someone who you can complain to without them telling you how lucky you are just to have books published, a great agent, etc.

    But I also need my fix of writer-to-writer talk. That’s where we can focus on things that make no sense to the writing crowd, get sympathy, and just generally talk shop. It’s great to have friends that get it and friends that don’t need to.

  3. Lisa Marie says:

    Most of my IRL friends are also writers — thankfully. So we “get” each other perfectly. However, it’s very difficult to explain to people who don’t understand this type of work the following:

    1. I write for a living. Unless my butt is in my chair X-number of hours a day, I don’t generate income. It’s not like I hate people; however, I have deadlines, and sometimes those deadlines are on weekends and Friday nights, when people are normally out. Some people get it. Others think that this is an unhealthy way to live. But why? If I had a regular day job, I’d *still* be parked in a chair in front of a computer. (!)

    2. Social networking — blogging, twittering, participating on writers’ forums — is necessary to find out about new opportunities, connect with clients and market myself as a freelancer. I really don’t enjoy maintaining a website. But if I don’t have a virtual presence, no one will know I exist.

  4. Ryan Field says:

    “So I guess I’m curious to know: do you ever feel this kind of isolation when it comes to your writing and the rest of the world?”

    All the time. But don’t care ’cause I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing.

  5. Kerry Gans says:

    Sure, there’s a divide there, an isolation. I think people have trouble comprehending the merit in anything that does not produce either something tangible or good money. And they have no idea how the process works.

    I just had a relative who had read the ms. I am shopping ask me, “By the way, did you ever get that book published?” Like asking if I got milk at the store. Like it was simple.

    Most non-writers, when they ask how your writing is going, don’t really want to know – it’s like a coworker asking how your weekend was. I generally just smile and say, “It’s going great!” and leave it at that.


  6. Social networking has been a godsend for me, especially in the aspect of alleviating any feelings of isolation. Beyond just writing, I engage more with people online than I do in person. That’s the nature of the modern information world.

    Specifically as to writing, I did feel isolation until 2007 when I stumbled across writers’ message boards such as Absolute Write. At the time the only writers I knew were in workshops and we barely staid in contact. Then with AW I became in contact with writers from all over the country on a daily basis. Then came my involvement with Facebook and Twitter and my social circles have expanded exponentially. So I never feel isolated anymore, even when I’m writing because whenever I take a break I can jump onto a MB, FB or twitter and I’m able to connect with everyone else.

  7. Clix says:

    I think the divide you’re talking to happens with any niche, though; I experience it as a teacher, a gamer… heck, even gender creates it! It’s human nature to divide groups into “us” and them,” but as the comments here show, there’s reason behind that: among “us,” we reinforce and support each other; among “them” we are questioned and challenged. Both are important to help us grow.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Me: “So there’s these things called query letters, and then there are agents, and then there are publishing houses, and advances and marketing and blah blah complicated blah blah years off life pain agony tears crying wine.”
    Friends: *blink*

  9. Jennifer says:

    My family loves my writing, but they do not understand why it means so much to me. I enjoy my character development and the changes they have during the plot. Sometimes when I read excerpts to them from one of my novels I get tears. My family understands I have talent, but does not really comprehend why I try so hard to get published. Then I explain I want my writing to be published so readers can empowered to dream.

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