I've talked here before about the importance of networking. As writers, we need to build relationships with not just readers but with other authors, agents, editors...people throughout the publishing process. It's important for many reasons that are beneficial to your career and further education, but also necessary for your sanity.
I don't know about other writers, but I live in my head. A lot. I'm home alone for many hours a day while my daughter is at school with an Internet, a couple of cats and a Word document staring at me with more expectation than a Jewish mother. If something is weighing on my mind, it's going to rattle around up there and my personal echo chamber will fill up with it. Meanwhile there are characters that need wrangling and deadlines to meet. Often someone will offer the old chestnut of, "Focus on your work." For me that's not as helpful because my work is in my head, too. I don't get up and go somewhere else and put in a 9-to-5 somewhere. So that can be difficult as hell to deal with sometimes.
Unless you have people around you who are sympathetic to such idiosyncracies.
Thursday I was reminded just how awesome it is to know there are people out there who understand what it's like to have a Writer Brain. Author and amazing woman Charlaine Harris has caught some flack recently for her decisions in ending the Sookie Stackhouse series. That's a completely different topic and I'm not getting into it. (I don't want the spoilers. I will read the shit out of that book next month.) Anyway... commenting on those events, one person had this to say:
Listen up, gang: Readers don't get to decide what a writer does with his or her characters; the writer gets to decide. Period. Charlaine has lived with Sookie Stackhouse in her head for more than thirteen years; I'm pretty sure she knows exactly what's right for the characters she's created. Also? GET OFF MY LAWN!
The part that really struck me was the bit about Charline living with Sookie in her head. I read that and thought, "There's someone who gets it."
Again, I can't speak for other authors, but there are days I question my sanity. I live with all these imaginary people in my head. I talk to them and about them...and it's socially acceptable. I lie on paper for your enjoyment. I'm picking apart conversations, movies, stories...mining reality for something to add to fantasy, searching for nuggets of truth that will get you to believe me when I spin my pretty lies. I am manipulating you into caring about people who don't exist. According to the screams from some of my beta readers, I've succeeded.
This is cool. This is weird as hell.
I'm so full of gratitude to the people who allow me into their heads, for those who accept my strange brew and get it that there are more people than me living in my head. One of my beta readers asked a question about Book 3 (currently in drafting) and I answered. In. Character. It was like there was this moment where a character just shoved me aside and started typing for me.
When stuff like that happens, or when I cry because I just said goodbye to a character, or when I giggle at something one of them said... there are people who understand that while I'm writing it, it's not always me. They get the difference. It's like actors. You know that Anthony Hopkins is not a serial killer, but for a time, he has to wear that skin. Hannibal Lecter is speaking through Hopkins. We writers get to do something very similar, channeling these characters and living their lives with them.
I'm very thankful for the people who put up with me as a writer. For the people who get it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a book to write.