One of my many character flaws is that I lack empathy. I won’t even talk about sympathy, which I possess even less of. But empathy – that is a sharing of pain, grief, hell, even happiness and joy. Empathy, to my way of thinking, does not embody victimhood (on the negative side), and on the positive side tends to recognize that wonderful moments rarely happen in a vacuum – that there are others who help along the way. So believing, it would seem that empathy for those who are suffering as well as for those who are not should be a fairly straightforward proposition. You’d think. Right?
And yet time and time again I have seen in myself a general lack of understanding for those writers who can’t find the time or the energy to write. When I’m not writing myself, I usually attribute my lack of production to laziness. With a houseful of people, including a toddler, as well as a full-time job, I could still produce. Therefore, if you weren’t producing, you obviously didn’t want to bad enough. And that was on you.
Now before you think I’m totally cold-hearted, I did make allowances for surgeries, divorces, death, and catastrophic flooding. See how generous I am!
Fast forward. About a month and half ago I lost my job due to downsizing. Yay! More time for writing. And yet that has not proven to be the case. Why? Because damnit, looking for a job is emotionally draining – at least for me. When my life is humming along, it’s typically only a matter of squeezing in some time to write. Now I have time, but the well is dry.
Oh, the ideas are there. This is not about writer’s block. No, this is about pulling emotions out of your core and putting it on the page. You know – writing. And writing is all about emotion, but filling out applications every day, signing up on the job boards, wading through the TONS of emails this generates, not to mention filing for unemployment benefits, which means filling out tedious government forms – well, I find it takes a toll. After several hours each day trying to convince strangers that I’d be an asset to their organization, my emotional well is as dry and lifeless as the Sahara.
There is redemption to this tale. While I might not have started out being empathetic to the plight of other writers, I did come to that place once I found myself similarly encumbered. So perhaps my arrival to this place of grace did not come about in the noblest of ways, but come about it did. Better by way of commonality than not at all. Smooches y’all!
Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.
Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.
Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.