It’s a funny world to live in, being a writer. I’m sure painters and engineers feel the same way. Looking at an unusual building, or seeing a traffic light sequence and imagining the calculations necessary to optimise efficiency so that the cars coming one direction can move smoothly from light to light, while the cars on perpendicular streets don’t have to stop for five minutes at a stretch. It’s daunting! And we don’t think about it. It’s just day to day life for most people. Unless you’re an engineer, and it’s your job to programme those lights and make sure things are running smoothly. And I think that’s what makes the difference, between most people and an engineer. Curiosity.
That isn’t to say most people aren’t curious. I think we’re basically a curious species, which is why we generally do most of the ridiculous things we do. “hmm… what happens when I…?” Engineers, doctors, scientists, artists—writers. People who look at the world a little differently. Which is what makes being a writer a little interesting at times. There’s a pretty big difference between how someone like me thinks and, say, a businessman. Not much common ground. He talks in figures and bottom lines, I talk in pictures and abstractions. Neither are much good without the other though, frankly.
In any case, being a writer can set you somewhat apart, as most of your insights sound pretty silly when you run to find an audience after an epiphany and try to say them out loud. Long story short, I signed up for some writer’s groups here in San Diego and went to my first meeting last night. It was interesting! Like I said, you can’t relate to most people on a writing level, the joys and frustrations of trying to create something and struggling and failing, or best of all, when you see it finally come to life after months (or even years)—these things are totally alien to most people.
My friend and I were talking about this today, and he’s involved in mixed martial arts competitions, trying to make a career out of fighting professionally. He remarked that he had about as much interest in writing as I did in getting hit in the face for a living. I told him that was a very astute observation. He called me a pissant for saying ‘astute’.
The writer’s meeting went well. It’s refreshing to meet other like minded individuals who understand and share your passion, and are actually interested in reading your work! There are meetings every Wednesday, and I’ve signed on board with a few other writing communities. Some of them require paid memberships. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but we’ll see as the time goes on. Networking within the writing community is essential to getting published, and if someone is willing to pay for their membership, then they’re probably pretty serious about getting their work out there.
But this gathering was pretty informal. My background in studying English and creative writing prepared me somewhat for the open forum critiquing method, which was kind of comforting to return to. For the others, it was a hobby that they were hoping to turn professional or just do for fun. Some of them had been published before, and were trying to branch out and try new things. There was a sailing captain, a student, a pet sitter, and an acupuncturist—all of whom loved to write and were passionate about their craft. Such varied backgrounds, with unique perspectives.
I’m really hoping this will be an opportunity to improve my writing and gain new ideas. There is inspiration everywhere you look. Authors too, apparently! We come from all walks of life. Next time you’re at the manicurists, or getting your oil changed, you might just be talking to an author, giving them inspiration for their next writing session. Empowering a bit, I think.
More to come soon.