On virtually every authors’ site I’ve belonged to, someone has mentioned the lack of family support when it comes to her fledgling writing career. When a writer can’t share her passion with those she loves, the pain is real and runs deep. She feels torn between her love of writing and her strong desire to keep the peace. Sometimes, she feels belittled, like her goals aren’t worthy of all the time she spends trying to achieve them. Working without the support of those you love is lonely, and it isn’t limited to women. Many men face the same problem.
The most dissension-causing aspect is the amount of time a writer spends on the computer. And we do spend a huge chunk of the day staring at this one-eyed monster. Though we can limit our time doing some things, we can’t eliminate our online activities. Networking, promoting, writing, editing, all are vital to our success. The most logical thing we can do is to carve out a time when our preoccupation will cause the least amount of disturbance to the rest of the family. But we also have to stand our ground when the time we’ve carved isn’t honored by everyone else. We may have to argue or fight or borrow Katie Weiland’s flamethrower, but after we’ve bent over backward to appease everyone, we must demand respect for our wishes.
Another complaint is that nobody in the family cares enough to read our work. We have something we’re proud of, and no one to share it with. How I wish I knew the answer to this one. Getting published actually helps to make everyone take our work more seriously, but until we do, our writing buddies become the source of our back-pats.
But there’s another problem those who have the courage to write about their unsupportive families face: the need some of our colleagues have to sing the praises of their own supportive families. It’s great that they’re so fortunate, but hurting writers don’t want to hear this. We want to know we’re not alone in our struggles. We want to hear how others like us are coping. We want a bit of sympathy and understanding. Although it’s not the fortunate author’s intention to rub our noses in her blessings, that’s the way it feels. “Sorry you’re not as lucky as I am!” is what we see whenever someone writes about her loving, understanding spouse. What’s worse is the wonderful Christian who hints that if an author is having so much trouble at home, perhaps God is saying he needs to quit writing. Just what we need to hear.
I guess I’m on a bit of a soapbox about this, but I’ve seen it so often, I wonder if people think before they chime in a conversation in which someone has revealed his pain.
Next time you see a struggling author looking for a kindred spirit, think twice before you respond with anything other than sympathy. You’re perfectly welcome to start a thread on “The World’s Most Wonderfully, Incredibly Supportive Spouse!” but try not to brag on your family when someone else is hurting over theirs.