I get that I would feel different to non-writers. That’s only to be expected. But it bothers me that I struggle to relate to all these writers I come across online. I don’t get why they’re writing the kinds of books they’re writing or why they’re writing so many of the buggers and how when they’re apparently so busy they have as much time as they appear to have to fart around on Facebook all day long. I don’t get what they’re getting out of being a writer. I know it’s a big world and there should be room for all sorts but I’m genuinely puzzled that there aren’t more of me out there. I like the idea of being special but I never imagined I’d be that special—I imagined being a writer was special enough—and yet after six years online I’ve pretty much given hope of finding a kindred spirit out there. I’ve made friends and two or three good ones that I’ll do my best to hang on to even if I decide to pack in all this blogging malarkey—hell, I even found a wife online—but I really hoped I would’ve run into someone who talked about writing the way I do.
Mostly I find people don’t talk about why and how they write. There are some things you don’t talk to people about like what they do when they have sex or what they pray about (if, indeed, they do pray). These kinds of things are seen as private. And what’s more private than writing? Very few of us write in company. Writing’s not a social thing. As it happens I’m writing this with my wife in the room with me but she may be asleep; it’s hard to tell sometimes. Even if she’s not she’d never think to turn to me and ask me what I’m writing. She’s a writer herself and knows that’s not the done thing, at least not in our household. I’ll show her when I’m good and ready. The first thing she knew about the novella I finished at the start of the year was when I sent her a copy to read. I hadn’t even told her I was working on one before that. A friend of mine has just posted this on Facebook: “Oh oh... idea for my next novel is beginning to consume me...” I don’t get how she can do that. It’s the same with these writers who’re perpetually telling you how many words they’ve written. Why one earth would they draw attention to themselves like that?
I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised that I’ve not found another writer like me. If I was being true to character I wouldn’t do any of this blogging. I’d write my books and stories and poems and even the odd play and not worry about whether anyone read any of it. Because this isn’t me. This takes effort on my behalf. Writing is natural but blogging isn’t. I do it to try to promote interest in my real writing, the writing that matters to me, but I’d rather not.
Now that I’ve written all of this I, of course, want to delete everything I’ve just written (in fact I have deleted a large chunk of it) because I don’t like revealing so much about myself online or even in my writing. Mostly I don’t do the kind of things people want to read about if even I was interested enough in me to write that kind of stuff down but today’s topic is one that I’m tossing out there because I’m genuinely curious if everyone out there feels the same as I feel. Or anyone (because we’ve ascertained that not all do).
Why do we read? We read to try to understand other people and in doing so come to a better understanding of ourselves, if only our attitudes. Often we hold a worldview and seek validation from a third party. So we read and we read and we read and we read and finally, finally we come across a writer who’s saying what we always believed to be so; our beliefs are corroborated. Often it’s only a line or two in a book of quotations but it is so nice to stumble across it. And I guess that’s what I’m looking for. I don’t mind being alone but it would help to know that I wasn’t alone in being alone. It doesn’t make sense—it won’t make my aloneness any different to what it is—but we’re perverse us humans. The nearest I can get to that is believing that in the countless alternate realities out there there’re innumerable numbers of me all simply getting on with it. And imagining a few who’ve made a success of it too. That also helps.