Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Too Much of a Good Thing?

It's the bane of unpublished writers attending holiday cocktail parties. Not what to wear or if you should take your life into your own hands and try the egg nog - I wouldn't if I were you - no, it's the innocent sounding question, "So, what do you do?"

Lots of blog posts deal with the topic of whether or not to cop to the W label, and there was an interesting take on the subject on Nathan Bransford's forums a while back. My own take is that I don't use the 'w' word when I'm in non-writer company. It takes too long to explain properly, and causes misunderstandings (wait, so I can't go to Barnes & Nobel and pick up your book?)

It's even taken me a long time to say 'writer' to my own friends and family. But the hardest part isn't that they are not supportive or don't take me seriously. The hardest part is how completely and utterly they believe I will succeed.

It's irrational. They have NO REASON to believe that I'll do more than futz around with manuscript after manuscript until I either give up or am dropped off at the nearest Center for Delusional Old Ladies. Their unconditional support can feel - at times - like an albatross. Another cart load of people to disappoint if I fail.

I know this is a purposefully negative view of what should be a source of comfort, but does anyone else ever feel like unconditional support can seem like insincere support? Or am I being a total freak?

When I give crits or talk to other writers about their work I get really specific about why what they are doing is worthwhile. I don't want them to feel warm and fuzzy, I want them to believe.

That's what I want from my (sometimes) blindly supportive friends and family (Mom, talking to you here.) I want to believe.

What about you? Is unconditional support what you want? Or are you a freaky bag of contradictory needs like moi?

This is a (totally awesome) blog hop started by the incomparable Alex J. Cavanaugh. You can find the list of participants after the jump.

This is a Blog Hop!


  1. Yeah, that dreaded question. I hear you loud and clear. To this day I'm still trying to figure out how to answer it. Glad you posted. Enjoyed reading what you had to say.

  2. I am exactly like that! I think I drive my poor husband crazy. He's so sure I'll get published some day that it's annoying. I know he means well, but I just want to say "it's hard! It may not happen, ever!"
    Basically this means our poor families are in a bit of a lose lose situation. :-P

  3. As terrifying as it was to name myself as a writer out loud to others, there was an immense power behind that public act. I think I have become more prolific and committed as a writer since I took that plunge, and while I continue to feel a tiny bit terrified every time I call myself that, it feels a little more real each time as well. As for unconditional support, I want real and honest feedback from my critique group, from conferences, from everyone else. And when I'm a quivering heap over rejections and self-doubts, sometimes a nice dose of unconditional support is just what I need.

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