You know the look. You’re jabbering happily along to a non-writer type and suddenly she goes into zombie mode. Her eyes glaze over, face becomes expressionless, and she starts edging away.
You should have known she wouldn’t care about every minutia in the development of the interior journey of your favorite movie character . . . or of your struggles with plot development, or even your angst about the writing journey. But you went off, talking about your passions, and in that moment your best friend would have preferred Barney to your company (even though he is big, purple, sappy, and sings irritating songs).
It used to really hurt my feelings. I mean I love my friend, she loves me, and I thought we were a happy family. So why doesn’t she care about what I care about?
I even got this kind of stuff from my family. I mean why didn’t the kids what to hear me read the next chapter of my WIP? And why hasn’t my husband read my novels? Sure he prefers football to chick flicks and biographies to romances, but shouldn’t he care that my hero and heroine finally found their way past all the obstacles?
And so what if I’m sobbing at the computer? Does it really matter that the kid who got nailed by a speeding car exists only in my imagination? He’s in a coma for heavens sake! Shouldn’t I get a little sympathy?
Thankfully the writer’s journey has taught me a few things about relationship over the last eight years. First, I now know my friends and family really can love me to pieces even if they don’t want to read my latest manuscript or have a philosophical discussion about why a character responds to life as he does.
Non-writer types just don’t have the capacity for all this. They love me, not my world, and want the bottom line. Am I okay? Did I sell something? Get a good (or bad) review? They care how I’m managing this crazy world called a writer’s journey even though they don’t want to know many details about what that looks like.
Another thing I’ve learned is there are strange types who don’t hear voices in their heads. They never discover a whole story line in the way the gal scanning their groceries glimpses discreetly over her shoulder at the buff guy moping aisle 4. And it really does take massive amounts of effort for them to relate to those of us who do.
My husband may not read every chapter I write, but he has to put up with my brooding as I’m discovering a new character or waiting for that rejection letter or fighting writer’s block. And my kids my not want to hear about what I write, but they believe I’m a writer even when I don’t. Maybe all that pounding of the keyboard convinced them something real is going on and they believe it even on the days I don’t.
And my friends? They give me wide berth when I’m under a deadline. Despite my neglect they believe that I really do still love them and will come back to the real world when I wrap up the one I’m creating. Until then they wait patiently for me to return to them.
The other really important thing I’ve learned is I have a great need for people who DO hear voices. Some of my happiest, safest places are wherever writers gather. They get me. They understand my angst. They, too, wonder about interior motivates and strange plot twists. And it’s probably 4 a.m. before their eyes start to glaze over when I talk about such things.
See, while we need those weird creatures who live firmly grounded in reality, we also need a place where we make sense to our fellow sojourners.
So, my dear friends who hear voices, be patient with the non-writers in your life. Save most of that word count about the writing world for your writing buddies. Take time to develop healthy relationships in your writing community.
And the next time you go to crit group or your local ACFW chapter meeting, greet those buddies with a great big hug and a kiss from you to them.
And they’ll say they love you, too.
A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her devotional website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional and you can visit her blog at GraceReign. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, she loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.