Writing is a solitary act, but don’t tell that to us writers. We are the makers of our own world, the creators of colorful characters, the composers of scenery—dark or light, terrifying or magnificent. From our minds comes a place where plots unravel, revealing hidden roads, unearthed from the depths of our imagination. Roads that may lead a reader to the heights of joy, or into an abyss of terror. We may sit in solitude, but we mingle among untamed and uncharted territory, always riding on the waves of our self-made adventure.
But enough of that gobbledygook.
I assume most people imagine a writer’s existence to be one of lonely days and scotch soaked nights. Hollywood hasn’t done much to expel this stereotype, either. We’ve become well acquainted with this picture: a writer sits behind his or her antique mahogany desk, sipping from a short glass of finely aged scotch while ribbons of smoke swirl up from a nearby ashtray. Ah, yes. What a scene. Surely this writer is bound for greatness. And what a romantic notion…if only it weren’t complete bullshit.
We writers too often spend our days in pajamas or potato chip-stained sweat pants. Sure, we brush our teeth and shower, but anything beyond that detracts from the focus of the day: writing. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an antique mahogany desk. I have a two hundred dollar get-up from IKEA, which, by the way, I never use. Where’s my writing done? On the couch. Where’s my lit cigarette? There isn’t one. And how about that finely aged glass of scotch? Well, it’s water and herbal tea for this writer—coffee for most others. As for being destined for greatness? Well, I can only hope.
I’m afraid writers are a bit like gymnasts. Everyone imagines that a gymnast is going to be something otherworldly between the sheets; full splits and handstands. But in reality, I imagine they are like the rest of us. A little horizontal mambo, a slap on the ass, and time for beddy-bye. Writers are thought to be these introspective, brilliant oddballs who frequent coffee shops, with their laptops in hand. They sit, donned in sleek leather jackets and too cool berets, sipping lattes while pumping out their next masterpiece. But the truth is, while we may be introspective, none of us fall into the typical stereotype. Let us be honest, none of us are that cool. And if I ever met someone that cool, I’d probably think they were an asshole. Come on, they probably would be.
Writers are family people. We have crazy, hectic homes just like the rest of you. Some of us have children running around, providing wonderful background noise to the hours in which we try to write that brilliant masterpiece. We do the dishes; take the dog out to do its business; run the kids to school; cook dinner; we write, and some do all this while working a full time job. We are no different than anyone else. Which gets me to my point. In all the mental pictures evoked by the simple word writer, there’s one very significant aspect of a writer’s life that’s always missing: family.
As Stephen King knows, there’s always a Wendy or Danny in the background, waiting for dear old Dad’s attention. Luckily for all the Wendys and Dannys of the world, most writers aren’t possessed lunatics, looking to chop them into little bits. I’ve never hacked through my children’s door, with a boisterous “Here’s Mommy!”
What I’d like to do is give a shout-out to my family, and to all families of writers.
As I said earlier, we writers are solitary creatures…while writing. Writing isn’t something we tend to bring other people in on. We prefer a little “me” time to get the job done. And make no mistake, we are anything but lonely. We’re so wrapped up in our stories that hours will pass by without us having noticed. But there’s one party that does notice, and it’s the people we love most. It’s our husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, fiancés and—most importantly—our children who sacrifice right along with us. They allow us the time to make our dreams a reality, and to birth the stories of our active imaginations. They cook dinner when we’re still punching away at the keys. They play quietly while Mommy or Daddy works to be the next Proust. They do all they can to encourage us when our self-deprecation dares to pull us under. They support us, even when no one else does, and they believe in our success before we’ve even attained it. They are the real reason behind our ability to do what we love. They are the unsung heroes in our lives, and in our stories.
Remember, all you writers, we may sit in front of our laptops alone; we may not recruit the help of others when formulating our wicked plans, but that doesn’t mean that our success is completely our own. Someone helped you get where you are, and in many cases, you won’t have to look that far. The elves helping run your Santa’s Work Shop are likely right under your roof. So, don’t forget to show that special someone a healthy dose of gratitude. As for your children, wrap your arms around them and let them know how much you appreciate their patience.
From now till the day I’m no longer coming up with my literary antics, I will be in debt to my husband and my children. They are the foundation on which my dreams have been built, they are the pillars that hold me up, they are my lifeline to joy and happiness. At the risk of sounding cheesy and cliché, I say screw it. I don’t care. Bring on the cheddar. My husband and children are my all and my everything. They are the air that I breathe, the beauty that keeps my soul light. They are my true inspiration and the reason I wake every day, full of appreciation and awe. They are the people whom I dedicate all my work to.
To my family, I thank you. Thank you for helping this writer do what she loves, but more than that, thank you for making a woman out of the broken pieces that resembled nothing of the person I am today.