IWSG: Insecure? Because We’re Writers….

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group bloghop. It is scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month. TODAY is the first Wednesday of the month. So it’s not too late to join up— unless you are reading this tomorrow.

Why are writers insecure? Because we’re writers! Writing is a lonely business, from the day when you bat out your first, poorly-thought-out short story attempt until you reach the Stephen King level of success. And in our culture, we’re taught that doing things by ourselves is bad.

Schools have taught us that everything, even going to the bathroom, must be done as a group project. When teachers assigned us something in the creative-writing realm— if they ever did— they try to turn it into something more compatible with group activity. They don’t ask us to write a poem, they instruct us to count out 5-7-5 syllables and call the result a ‘haiku’. Because that way the bulk of our class time is spent in a group— having the syllable-counting explained to us, showing us examples of syllable-counted ‘haiku’, and after comparing the student-written ‘haiku’ and condemning those examples which strayed overly far from the models given.

Real writing is nothing like that. No one gives you the assignment. Something that starts out as a historical romance trilogy might end up as a Western novella— but since you are working on your own, no one will care, since it’s only the finished product that counts. And so by identifying yourself as a writer, you are identifying yourself as something scary— a loner, one of those quiet types, no one ever suspected….

The amateur writing world has plenty of chances to ease your insecurity by making your writing efforts more ‘groupish’. You are urged to sign up for NaNoWriMo where, in addition to writing to someone else’s word count goals, you are encouraged to use part of your writing time discussing all your plot points on the forum— and abandoning those that fail the group-think test. And then when you are finished with your NaNo novel, you are told that you are now required to hire an editor-for-hire, and then create a rewrite incorporating the editor-for-hire’s suggestions. And then you self-publish it and it’s OK that it doesn’t sell because the writing isn’t really yours any more, after all.

I find that any attempt to make my writing ‘groupish’ causes writing failure. Lawrence Block once refused to give many details about a current writing project of his, saying he didn’t want to ‘leave his fight in the gym’.

I don’t know much about the boxing metaphor but I do know that the more I talk over my story idea, the less likely it is that I will gather the strength and creativity to get that story idea down on paper. I can TALK about a story, or WRITE it, but not both.

And so I am a lonely and therefore insecure writer, putting in months of toil on writing ideas I haven’t laid out before a suitable group to gain their criticism, praise and permission-to-proceed. Only after I have committed a great deal of effort to making my fiction the best, it can be will any people be allowed to see it, and by then any criticism or praise will hurt all the more since at that point there will be limits to what I am able to change.

But that’s the writer’s life— my life, your life, Stephen King’s life before he was killed by his evil pen name and replaced…. So if you are feeling lonely and insecure today, congratulations. You may be a REAL writer!

Asperger Syndrome: Being Invisible in Church

aspergerWhen you have Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum ‘disorder’), you can not only count on regularly being bullied and mocked, you also find that in church where you get a bit of a break from the bullying, you are invisible.

I went to Mass today, and no one talked to me. I waited around in the foyer to give people a proper chance, but still— invisible. Now, you might say I go to the wrong kind of church if I want people to talk to me and offer even ME Christian fellowship. But I don’t choose my church for social reasons but for correct doctrine.

And even when I went to more outgoing churches in the past (Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical, LDS, and Christian Science) it wasn’t much different. Oh, people said words to me, but they were exclusively the polite nothings people say in church to people they don’t know and are not really trying to know. Sometimes folks would try to evangelize me because I was new, but after they were sure I was properly saved— invisible.

It hurts my heart to go to God’s House as one of God’s children and find that because of my Asperger Syndrome, the whole Christian fellowship thing is marked ‘not for me’.  Sometimes I feel like standing up on a pew and screaming ‘I’m here! I’m human! I’m a child of God! Won’t anyone offer me a little love and kindness!’

Only of course I’d never do that and so no one knows that I go through the motions in church and I’m really dying inside because I’m alone and have no real-world friends and never have a conversation with a human being other than my mom and my therapist.

It’s not easy being a friend to a person with Asperger Syndrome. People talk to me and I guess I send off ‘don’t bother me, go away’ vibes when what I mean to send off is ‘I’m so desperate for the tiniest hint of friendship I will let you boss me around’ vibes. And even when people say things like ‘call me anytime’ I don’t do it because I don’t know when an ‘anytime’ will come along when I’m not bothering them.

I guess what I’m really dreaming of is that someone will come along and decide to be my friend whether I like it or not, and invite me to their house and not take the first 7 ‘no’ answers seriously and call me and talk to me even when I sound grumpy and not notice that I’m too poor to reciprocate their kindnesses to me. I know that will never happen, but that’s what I hope for because I know there are some good Christian people out there who do things like that, and many more who WOULD if only they knew how much some people around them needed it.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Douay-Rheims Bible

It is better therefore that two should be together, than one: for they have the advantage of their society:

  If one fall he shall be supported by the other: woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up.

Hebrews 13:5 DRB

…for He hath said: I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.