Every writer knows a book needs a hero, a heroine, secondary characters, a villain or three, a conflict and a resolution. But what about the other kinds of heroes your book needs? I mean the people who support your writing.
Writing is a solitary occupation. We’re writing when we’re staring out of windows. In fact that’s often when the “real” writing gets done, when ideas are formed from the rough clay of “what ifs”, ready to be explored on screen or paper. At those times, we need the understanding and support of the people around us, our friends and family. They are the people likely to get their heads bitten off if they interrupt our musings by asking what’s for dinner, or where their socks might have gone. These true heroes love us anyway.
I was lucky to have the back-up of my late husband, Paul. He’d only ever known me as a writer and he was also creative, so understood the process better than the average engineer, doctor or postal worker. Yet I remember being on a deadline and feeling thankful when he offered to prepare dinner, only to be asked, “What are we having?” Like Snoopy, my answer was something like, “Aaaaarrrrggggh.” Thinking about a menu was the last thing I needed right then. These days my sisters, other writers, my agent and online friends are my unsung heroes, cheering me on when the going gets tough, celebrating milestones and knowing when to leave me alone to write.
Not everyone is so blessed. Family can sometimes be an obstacle to your writing. It takes a long time to see any income – some writers never do. Or they make so little that others can’t understand why you keep going. They don’t get that if it’s in you to write, you’ll do it no matter what. The writing itself is your reward. They see your books using up time they regard as theirs, and distracting you from their needs.
It’s a balancing act to share yourself between a “day” job, your writing and the important people in your life. Creating a schedule can help, as can writing early in the morning or late at night. When I wanted to be with Paul while still making progress on a book, I’d watch a TV show with him and scribble ideas and notes on a clipboard at the same time. Involving your heroes in your work can also help, if they’re interested in brainstorming, reading for you, or being part of the process in some other way. Like so much in life, compromise is the key. It’s not selfish to want to explore your talent, nor should you accept anyone else’s idea of what’s right for you. Online heroes are out there, if you can’t find them where you are.
Thankfully, most of us have our heroes much closer to home. Who are the heroes in your writing life?