The Community of Writers: Us vs Them?

Sometimes being a writer feels isolating. We sit and we write and very seldom is it a community event. We also get used to talking almost only to other writers about our writing.

Every once in a while, I’m made aware that this may be a dichotomy (writer vs other people) that exists because we as writers make it so. One evening I was chatting with another friend about her knitting. We hadn’t seen each other since 2019 but she is always working on something and I was curious to see her latest project. She knits socks and I do not.

After we had chatted for a few minutes, another friend who is a non-knitter asked what I was working on. I know I looked gob-smacked because he laughed. “I’m asking about your writing.”

“That explains it,” I said. “Because I didn’t think you’d be asking about my knitting.”

Why is it that we writers think that other people, normal people, just don’t get it? Certainly it is harder to communicate with them about it than it is to communicate with our fellow writers. After all, you don’t have to explain the frustrations of uncooperative characters, an editorial letter, or a rejection to your writing community.

But I think that part of it also has to do with the fact that we writer bond deeply with our fellow writers, even writers we have not met. This was one of the topics that Chelsey addresed in her essay Collectively Speaking. Writers bond as we critique each others work. As we develop ideas. As we go through classes together. As we commiserate over difficult assignments.

Over at Praypower, Lori, Ruth and I blog about prayer, faith and positivity. We “met” as writers for a web site that quit paying its writers. “We know you support our mission and will keep working with us.” We decided that if we weren’t going to get paid per post, we weren’t going to get paid on our own terms. The three of us took our show on the road and Praypower was born.

Our friendships are real. We get each other. We have group short hand just like “real” friends. Why? Because we are real friends. As writers we get each other.

It isn’t that nonwriters never understand us. It isn’t that nonwriters don’t care. But as Chelsey explained, nonwriters forge bonds through words over distance. And we are an amazing community. Thank you to all of you who are part of my writing community!

–SueBE