This entry originally appeared on Alex Laybourne’s website.
Support versus Tolerance
by Alex Laybourne
As writers, we seek the approval of others for what we do. We may say that we write for fun, or because we love it, and that is all true. A writer writes because they have to, but we publish because we want to share our work, and in doing so we hope for
good great reviews and the respect of our peers.
If you talk to any successful person, they will invariably say that they have a wonderful family who supported them the entire way. Just watch any Oscar speech and you will see what I mean. This is also true, and say what you like about successful businessmen or actors. I cannot see another profession that takes quite the toll on friends and family as that of a writer.
We live in worlds inside our head, worlds that not even our nearest and dearest – unless they happen to be writers themselves – could ever understand. We are moody and brooding when writing because we want to write more or need to work out a particular kink in the mechanics or arc of the story, or we are grumpy and moody because we are not writing at that moment in time. We write down and take a sometimes perverse interest in the crazy things that happen around us because it could be a good story idea at some point down the line. Yet our loved ones stick by us. They support us every step of the way.
I have a friend who is really into these self-help books… or as I like to call them – common freaking sense. However, one point that comes across again and again is to surround yourself with people who love and support you. It is supposedly some big secret to success (sorry the RANT will stop and I’ll get back on topic now).
What got me thinking was, how can you tell the difference between support and tolerance. Those loved ones that smile and nod their heads when you talk about your writing or sit there plotting, writing and editing. Yet on the inside, just below the surface they are thinking… “You fool. Oh well, at least it keeps them quiet. Stops them from causing trouble”
Can you still count that as support? Are they a positive influence in your life? They support your writing, but when it comes to promotions, and you want to invest some money or a chunk of time during the day to promoting, they put their foot down and refuse. Where does that leave you?
I am lucky enough to have the important people in my life supporting me, but there are a few that I know merely tolerate my dalliances with the written word, and view my attempts to carve a name for myself as nothing more than folly. They are waiting for me to grow up, to start pushing myself hard in other avenues… whatever they may be… please, send all answers to me on a postcard, because I draw a blank here.
This post is dedicated to these people. The silent partners who suffer us writers and support our every step, without ever truly understand what it is we do, and why. It is also a swipe at those who merely tolerate our actions. You all know who you are, and fellow writers, you probably know who they are too. You may not understand why we do it, and you don’t have to. You should support us unconditionally. We are not asking you to do it for us, nor are we demanding you buy 500 copies of our book to make us feel good and give us a rankings boost. We are merely asking that you believe in us. Smile and nod when we talk about our work, even if it is just like the approach taken by John Wemmick with the Aged P in Great Expectations. We are the ones putting ourselves out there, you have absolutely nothing to lose.
Wow, I’m having one of those days myself… everyone keeps coming into my office as I’m finishing a book and asking me stupid questions that can wait or just being inconsiderate… even though I’m the main bread-winner of the house by writing full-time, no one sees it that way. They love when the money comes in for stuff, but they think Amazon just loves me and randomly sends me cash…