I mean, I haven't sent her my ear or anything, but I've started following her on social media and reading her old blog. I found myself almost in tears reading through some of her old stuff, because I know those feels: she has these rambling paragraphs about how much she wants to get published and all the things she's doing to try to get there, the rejection she faces, the hurt she feels, the knowledge that writing is what she's supposed to be doing, and the lack of self-esteem to know whether or not anyone else will ever feel that way.
That's where I am right now. I have these stories that I want to get out to readers, but I don't know how to be effective. I can put them on Amazon, but I can't make anyone buy them. Hell, I can't even give them away. And everyone around me gives me the "You're really talented, don't worry," speech, but in truth, the odds are against me and I may never make it.
After that last sentence, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. It isn't about money or fame or whatever, it is about getting the stories out of my head and into the hands of a reader who will cherish them as much as I do. I know they're out there. There are people who will love these characters as much me, but I have to find them. Hocking did. Was it luck? That "Magic Hand" that she insists doesn't exist, or did she just work her ass off until it happened? Guess I'll keep working mine and hope that's the right choice of the three, because luck isn't in my wheelhouse.
I've started rewriting the next book. Even though it was written more recently and shouldn't require as many changes, the significant changes in the first one have altered the story in such a way that I had to completely change the first few chapters to get to usable material. As much as I love the new story and am excited for it to be released, I'm also worn out by it and glad it will be finished so I can move on to something new. I have a folder full of stories waiting to be written, and all they need is time and attention.
There's a young man in the coffee shop, sitting across the room from me, his eyes trained on his screen as his fingers whir across his keyboard at a feverish pace. I'm casually watching him while I wait for my muse to arrive, when I see him straighten his back, inch his fingers slightly away from the keys, and smile in triumph. He looks around the room then, blinks a couple of times, then takes a drink of coffee as he settles back into reality. He stretches and looks up again, and this time our eyes meet. I smile at him and nod, acknowledging his cleverness and encouraging him to leap back into the world at his fingertips. He sees my open laptop, and for a few seconds we share a camaraderie, before he turns back to his screen and I begin the painstaking battle to enter my own world.
Once I'm there, there's quite a lot to do. I do a quick scan of the news to remind myself of current events, and am shocked to discover that so much has transpired since the last time I was here. The villain has become more villainy, the hero has become more heroic, and the imminent battle between the two has grown even closer than when I entered their world yesterday. I hone in on my hero and listen to the last words that fell from their lips, then my fingers fly across the keyboard as I watch what happens next.
It is a beautiful thing, this movie in my head. I watch the interactions, the movements, and the changes that befall these people, and I'm lucky enough to be there to write them all down. Sure, some of the things I write down will be removed later, as they prove unimportant to the overall story I am seeing, but some of these little actions that I don't yet understand will be crucial to understanding how it all played out.
Having spent the majority of my life as a writer, I understand how the boy from the coffee shop feels when he looks up from being clever, only to realize that no one around him was there to appreciate it. Writers pour their hearts, emotions, and time into the world in their head, only to have their loved ones pat them on the back or shrug away without understanding the devastating effects their lack of emotion can cause. I've seen the concerned looks, the whispers between loved ones, and even the look of fear in someone's eyes when they realize your feet aren't firmly planted in the same world theirs are in. My sister has (lovingly) asked, "What do the voices tell you to do?" Little does she know, I'm not listening to the voices, I'm watching their vessels live full and adventurous lives, all from the privacy of my own keyboard.
So the next time you see that person in the coffee shop look up from frantically typing, give them a smile and a nod, and let them know it is okay to spend some time in a world that isn't the same one you're in. After all, the characters they so lovingly craft aren't imaginary people, they're friends.