The more I read, the more I meet with other writers and talk, the more I realize that what I write is so different from what I see written around me today, that it makes me want to weep from terrible loneliness. I'd like to relate to someone, anyone, talk the same language, but my writing process is so strange (rewriting each draft from scratch every time, anyone?), my reading tastes so bizarre (Russian novels but in English, books written by writers long dead, absurdist stories of all kinds), my pastime so devoid of typical daily activities (I don't read news, I don't watch TV, I don't go anywhere, I don't party), and my business practice so against everything that's sane and practical (giving e-books away for free, not checking my sales, not aware of any numbers for that matter), that even among other writers I often feel like an outsider.
There are moments of doubt that grip me so hard, I think I will break. I have come across only one personal story that assured me that it's okay to be me. There are others like me. I read this Haruki Murakami interview by the Paris Review and I felt relief. Murakami said that he's a loner, he doesn't belong to any writing groups, he doesn't go anywhere, he doesn't see people, he gets up every morning very early at the same time, goes for a run, then comes back and writes. It sounded exactly like my days, except I write as soon as I wake up and do yoga before bed.
When I doubt myself, I wish I had someone to talk to about this, not just a friend, but another writer who is like me and who can tell me I'm okay. I'm fine. What I do is perfectly normal. For me. I don't have to change. To adapt. I can keep being me, because if not, who else is there for me to be? No one. Me is all I have.
And so when feel terribly lonely like this, I write to you, my readers. You tell me it's all perfectly fine, I'm good, I'm okay, and I get a little bit better. But I still miss it, this connection, this friendship, and who knows, maybe I'll never find it. I see it online here and there, writers meeting, writers critiquing each other, writers sharing things that only they understand, and I sometimes try to enter such conversations, but I often don't get what they're talking about and say the wrong things, so I stopped doing it. I also understood that although social media is free for all, it doesn't mean that I'm invited anywhere I want. I try to join sometimes out of desperation, and it reeks too much of high school, you know, that annoying girl who stops by a gaggle of friends and says something totally off the wall and smiles, waiting for someone to say something, and everyone is quiet, string at her, thinking, "Go away. Stop making a fool of yourself. Can't you see we don't want you?"
I tried it all. I tried several writing groups. They were too slow for me. I tried meeting with writers for lunches. We had nothing to talk about. In my four years of writing I had only three encounters when I felt like our souls joined in a song, but in one case the meeting was a chance one, and the writer is like me, a loner, so scheduling something is difficult. In another case the writer is so busy that we get to meet very rarely, though I treasure every time. And in the third case I have more hope, I get to see my writing mentor at least once every few months, maybe more often. Still. It's not enough.
What is this? I don't remember having this need a few years ago. It seems to me I'm going through some kind of breakdown lately? I don't know. But I'm suddenly doubting everything, my book ideas, my writing process, everything. And I need someone's hand to hold mine, and I guess there isn't one.
The problem here is, I'm not a commercial writer. I mean commercial in the sense of traditionally published and selling author who is able to live off of writing alone. I haven't gone through the rigorous process of making a book ready for publishing. That's why many people call my stories raw. They are raw. They are half-baked. On top of it, I have never formally studied writing. And on top of it all I have never formally studied English, just took classes to pass TOEFL and then later some classes in college, that's all. So I'm like wild grass that's stubbornly trying to push through a layer of asphalt that's sitting on its way to the sun. I push and push and push, not knowing writing techniques they teach you, character development, plotting, world building, writing for a particular audience. Damn, I don't even know the proper terms to describe to you what I'm missing! I'm a wild offshoot trying to make it in the world where wild offshoots get picked off like weed. They're unsightly, loud, uncomfortable, they get in the way.
I guess there must be others like me out there, there must be, we just have to find each other. So I try. I try once in a while to pick up an indie book and almost every time I put it down after reading a few pages. They don't teach me anything new. Worse. I can see things that should've been edited and I can't keep reading. You often suggest me indie books like mine, but I don't read the kinds of books I write, I read very different books. My tastes are strange and very specific. Often I can't find what I'm looking for in the indie pool so I read traditional. Once in a while I'll try to find my kind of indie book again, but the amount of time I spent looking for it exhausts me. That's the roadblock we have as readers. How do we find excellent indie books? Where are they? There is no filtering mechanism except awards and reviews by readers, and there are usually not many to make a book noticed. I once tried reading indie books from bestselling Amazon lists and the like, and I again couldn't read them. Not my themes, not my stories. It's like a dark road with a dead end. (If I ever find a solution to this problem, I'll tell you. Or if you have found a solution, please share. I'd love to know where to look.)
I'll keep moving forward, of course. I have no other choice. In that I have a great privilege of being financially supported by my partner. Royce, without you none of this would've been possible. If I didn't have money to live on, I would've have been able to write my books just the way I want to write them.
Where does this all leave me? With my stories. When I'm lonely, I dive into my stories. They keep me sane. They make me happy. So I'll keep chipping away, chipping away, stubbornly, hoping one day I'll break through and see the sun and bloom.
I love you.