I’ll begin this post by stating I am not digging at anyone in particular in saying that I’ve often found in life that I’m sometimes more supported by strangers than I am by some friends and family.
If this post offends, ask me about it, or maybe ask yourself why.
As we were…
We Are Family
Writers will regularly tell you their family doesn’t understand them. We often start our writing gig thinking those who love us will be our biggest cheerleaders. This is not always the case.
Just because we share DNA doesn’t mean we share the same interests or aspirations.
To put this into perspective, you probably no more ask your plumber cousin or your checkout assistant uncle every detail about their work than they do of you.
You don’t take an intense interest in how they unblocked a toilet today or whacked a few tins down the checkout so fast they nearly had someone’s fingers off.
True story: I hated working in a supermarket when I was younger. If a customer was an arsehole I’d bowl with heavy tins and make that arsehole duck out the way. I was young and bitter as opposed to now being old and bitter.
I know there’s a fundamental difference between a plumber and a writer, although both are swimming in crap at some point. Plumbers get paid to do their job too. Lucky them.
Writers spill out all their intensely personal, creative shizzle. We want to know we’re doing a good job. We want our family to show appreciation. Maybe, just maybe, we need to show them some appreciation too.
I know which members of my family will ask about my writing and which won’t. I know which ones support it wholeheartedly and believe in me and it. I know where to go to get that appreciation.
I don’t seek validation from those that don’t understand it or aren’t interested. I’ve put it into perspective. Just as I don’t ask about their plumbing or checkout operator day, why should I expect them to suddenly develop an interest in my work?
Of course, I’d love to have every family member, spanning right out to distant cousins, shouting out to the world about my blog and writing.
Of course, I want them all to buy my book. However, I’m a realist. Some of them don’t read. Why will they start now just for my book? Maybe they will, and that would be amazing, but it’s unlikely.
I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt when people you expected in your family to support you seemingly don’t. Maybe ask them what they think about your writing. You could be surprised to find they’ve been reading your blog posts and updates all along. Or you may discover they just don’t care.
Remember, they are relatives, not your judge and jury.
Friend or Foe?
Firstly, you need to decide what constitutes ‘friend’.
If you have squillions of Facebook friends and you’re lamenting how three quarters of them never respond to your posts about writing or follow your writing page, you need to re-evaluate.
Facebook calls them friends for ease. The cousin of the bloke you met once at a seminar is not your friend. She’s there because you were either too polite to ignore her friend request or you accept any goon who asks to be your Facebook friend.
Now, on to proper, real life friends.
My best friend always has my back. I know she loves me, cares about me, and will always be there.
She supports my writing, often asks about it, and cannot wait to read my novel. That is an amazing thing to have.
I will be honest and say that sometimes the apparent lack of support from friends can hurt more than family. This is because I chose my friends. That’s a big deal to me.
In terms of my writing, I’ve gotten over how people I’ve known for years still don’t follow my Facebook page, Twitter profile, or read my blog posts.
Maybe they’re not readers. Maybe they’re just not interested. Maybe they’re miffed I don’t ask about their plumbing or checkout operator day. Maybe they keep forgetting to look at my posts or follow my page as they become busy with their lives.
I’ve learnt not to be offended.
When I went through a severe episode of depression last year, I culled my Facebook friends. I deleted people I’d known since I was a kid because I thought they didn’t care about me.
The head demons told me that, because they never liked my posts or communicated with me, they were no longer friends.
When I recovered I saw some truths.
Some of those people were rightly deleted. I kept them there to be polite.
Some were just drowning in life. To those I sent a private message begging for forgiveness, along with a friend request, many expressed sadness that I had been so ill.
This has taught me that ‘friends’ may not always openly support you but you may find yourself in their home one day, having a cuppa, and your novel sits on their book shelf.
They may have been the anonymous person that sponsored you to do an event.
Or they may just not give a shit about you. It’s a harsh truth.
Learn who cares and who doesn’t. Spend your time with those who do. Stop wasting your energy on the ones who don’t. Life is more wonderful when you do.
Support from Unexpected People
Since I started writing and blogging I have been regularly astounded by the support I receive from strangers.
The writing community has some bloody brilliant people in it.
Fellow writers have given me advice, encouragement, praise, and a kick up the bum. The fact that they take time out of their busy writing day to help me is humbling, or they’re just desperate for procrastination. Either way, the kindness of these strangers who are still strange (because they’re writers) but no longer alien to me, is great.
I love to see writers who I’ve got to know, pop up on my social media feeds or with a blog post.
People I would never have known before I began writing are as familiar to me now as old friends. I may never meet them but we share a common bond and we like to encourage each other.
When fellow writers and bloggers share my blog posts or social media posts, I feel their care and friendship in the gesture. They want the best for me and want me to succeed. I love to reciprocate.
These stranger writers and bloggers will inevitably support me more because they get it; they understand what I’m doing.
I’m sure if you sat a load of plumbers down in a room they could talk for hours about u-bends and the like. They get each other.
Beyond that though, I’m still astounded when strangers take the time to tell me how much they love my blog. I am humbled when others comment on my writing and show appreciation for it. It’s mainly people I’ve never met.
When I had my last bout of depression, love and genuine empathy came from people I hardly knew.
I was crying out to the world to make me better. I know I was desperate. The head demons defeated me when people I’d known for decades didn’t reach out. I needed to be acknowledged at a time I felt like I was disintegrating. I’m not judging, just stating how I felt.
People I hardly knew did reach out.
I remember the first blog post I wrote about getting depression again. I was petrified of the judgement of strangers. Instead I received an outpouring of caring and understanding. See the comments for this blog post: The Enemy Strikes Back
In real life, acquaintances sent me messages to check on me. My husband’s friends became mine with their checking on me and offering friendship.
At this point when I am running a 7k on 29th April, in my mum’s memory, I am finding that the donations are coming from the most unlikely people. Again, I am not judging those who I expected to donate and haven’t. They either will get round to it or they won’t. They will have their reasons.
I have been elated to see people who were strangers not very long ago, take the time to donate, some of them most generously. They believe in me and want to help me; someone they didn’t know not so long ago. Their support helps me to keep going with my training.
If you would like to sponsor me to raise money for the hospice that cared for my mum until her death, you can do so here: Lisa’s 7k Fundraising Page No pressure though. I won’t judge you.
Support is Good Wherever it Comes From
That’s the truth of the matter.
We have to learn to accept, hard as it is, that our parents may not understand why we write.
Our siblings may not care or are too busy to notice.
Our second cousin, three hundred times removed doesn’t even know you’re related, so give him a break.
The boy you had your first kiss with in the sandpit has snogged a lot of other girls since.
I’m learning, along with you, to acknowledge where my support is, rather than where it isn’t. It’s a process and it’s not always an easy one when the people closest to you don’t appear to care.
If you’re feeling particularly brutal, tamper with their plumbing tools or hurl those tins right back up at them on their checkout. You’ll be a prize git but sometimes you just need to be.
Share Your Thoughts, Writer or Not – Where Does Your Support Come From?
Do you get support from friends and family? How do you feel about that?
Do you find that strangers often support you more? What does that mean to you?
Any tips for fellow writers who are feeling neglected by their loved ones?