According to Thesaurus.com, these are all synonyms for SUPPORT.
Since returning to my everyday routine, I've been thinking more and more about a writer's support structure and I've been wondering about the challenges each writer faces. I can speak to my own issues with consistency and drive, my seemingly (but improving) lack of support from friends and family and what I do to combat those issues. And I will speak to them.
To my fellow bloggers and our small and growing readership, I ask for advice or for you to commiserate with me on this topic. What kind of support structure do you have when it comes to writing? How does it affect your writing or your drive to write?
For the past week, I've been waging a battle with my husband. He wants me to succeed as a writer, but (I don't think) doesn't understand what I need from him. I want to be clear; I'm not using him as an excuse for not getting my pages completed--that is entirely on me. I would, however, appreciate a little understanding that life cannot go on as it has the last four years. Since graduating I have not completed a single work of fiction. Not one. I have not written a short story, I have not finished a novel, I haven't written a single sentence that has contributed to a story arc that has come to any sort of conclusion. This is my opportunity to change it. I am recharged with purpose--a purpose that is slowly being siphoned away from me every day.
I've considered support structure as both an excuse and a reason. Do I use his lack of enthusiasm for my “calling” as an excuse to let it slide away? I have a social life, a full-time job, a pet, a husband, a family—I have demands on my life. When it is easier to not write than to write, is it fair to say that all or none of these are more important than this dream of mine? Shouldn’t I be making every effort to make this dream come true even if it is at the expense of all things listed above? If I am struggling with understanding the balance, is it fair for me to expect my husband to know where the line has been drawn?
So what is support structure? I guess it depends on the person you’re looking at to shoulder your writing burden. For my husband, I would hope he’d take a look around and think, “What can I do to enable my wife to write?” This burden is large, I do admit. My expectations for him range from helping me clean the house so I don’t look at it and think, “I need to clean the toilet, we have guests coming over” or “ I can’t think much less write when I have dog hair tumbleweeds rolling across my living room floor”. And I’m not even mentioning the dishes or laundry. I know he wishes for my success but doesn’t see his role in all this.
Are they excuses? Without a doubt. My specific needs require these excuses to be taken away and I’ve been asking for help. Asking and asking with no results. Even a regularly loaded Caribou card and a push out the door would be beneficial. But then, I can’t even get him to read a simple page long blog post. Can you hear the violins swelling in sympathy?
What about the secondary support—friends and other family members? They should be your biggest fans, right? Hmmm. I spend my free time, mostly, with a certain “type” of individual. What these people are or are not is not as important as the fact that they are not readers. I don’t think someone needs to be a writer to understand writing, however, I believe a person needs to at least be a reader to “get it”. Though my family reads, they aren’t readers—with exception of my sister and maybe my mom when she has time. And most of my friends don’t read. They know HOW to read, but they don’t do it.
Impressions are everything, are they not? I have always been under the impression that my parents and sister view my writing as something new I’m just trying out because I’m bored—as a hobby (I hate that word). Actually, they regard the visual arts I produce with more respect. Whenever I talk about writing around them, they seem bored and I feel like a two year old who just did something precious and received a pat on the head for my efforts. They mean well, they mean to be supportive and maybe it's a lack on my part. I'm not getting what I need and I don't know how to communicate that to them.
I have experienced similar reactions from friends. I guess I’m more forgiving of their bored attitude because they aren’t my family. They choose to spend time in my company and while they should care about what makes you tick and what you’re passionate about…sometimes they only want to hang out with someone they kind of like. And I understand that. Of course I’m speaking of the majority. I do of course have friends who read often and discuss books and writing with me. I do have friends who write—okay, one friend—and it has helped.
Will my expensive writing education will only be rationalized when I become a published author? Will the general disinterest in my writing from those around me make me less inclined to share my success with them? Well, yes. It already has. Is this a problem from a marketing standpoint? Absolutely. If I don't share, how can I get those guaranteed sales when I do get published? Why should I only be allowed to share the wins but not the struggle or the losses? Is this a greater example of American competitiveness as a whole or simply my personal experience?
One last paragraph rife with questions to wrap up this rant of mine. What is the solution to creating a support structure? If telling isn’t enough—and it never is in any context—how do you show would-be supporters what you need from them? Or how do you find the motivation despite them? What keeps the keyboard clicking? How DO you keep going without your own personal cheer squad in your corner?
I don’t know the answers.
In the end, I know there is only one person responsible for getting it done. That’s me. This year is my year to prove to myself I can do it and to hell with everyone who pats me on the head. But I do long for something better than this.
Thank you for reading my rant.