I've had a lot of crazy jobs in my lifetime, including being a professional gambler. I thought that I had the best friends in the world, because they stood by as I ruined my life over and over again, and they listened to my depressing stories, or they watched me lose $30,000 in a few hours and patted me on the back afterwards and told me it was going to be okay. They listened every time I screwed up yet another great relationship with a perfectly normal guy by being my unstable self. Surely only the best of friends would do all these things.
Then 2012 came, and I resolved to put aside every other task and focus on my writing. I spent most of my time writing in 2011, but not for money-- just for pleasure, and feedback, and for a small group of my readers. Finally, spurred on by their feedback and praise, I figured it was time to make a career out of the one thing I loved most in the world, and the one thing I have been doing for my entire life, regardless of every other obligation.
In late January, I had finished the novel that I had been working on periodically throughout 2011, Drowning Mermaids. Almost a month passed without me seeing a single person. When I finally did see my best friend, it was only because I wanted to give her a friendship ring that had arrived in the mail-- she and I had ordered matching rings for Christmas to celebrate ten years of friendship. She told me that she had been meeting with our other friends and they had considered staging an "intervention" for my writing. They also believed that I should sell my house, since I wasn't working. None of them had read my novel, and none of them had contacted me at all in all the time I had been writing. Just one month into my "career" and no one had any faith in me.
This confused me a bit. You see, when I had a serious gambling problem, no one even considered staging an intervention or getting me help. They all had faith that I would sort things out on my own, which I did. How is my writing a problem? Why do I need help? I assume that it is the popular thing to do among my friends to insult Nadia over dinner, and poke fun at her silly ambitions and passions. That's fine, but why now? Why not in the past when all of my pursuits were decidedly and admittedly lamentable and dishonorable? Why now, when I am actually pursuing something rather dear to me that I have been waiting for a chance to do for over a decade?
Anyway, I tried to put these issues behind me and continue on without anger. I began seeing my friends a bit more consistently, once a week or so. In mid-February, I was making good progress on my second novel, Fathoms of Forgiveness, when I received a horrible review. Although I tried to be tough, I took it very personally and it drained my energy-- it was from a respectable source. I was supposed to meet with my friend that day to go to the gym, and while I did want to see her and talk, I didn't have the energy for a workout. I wanted to focus all my thoughts on improving my writing. Unfortunately, she did not want to compromise and go for a drink and chat with me, and chose instead to leave and continue to the gym alone. We went our separate ways, and haven't spoken since.
Since then, every night when I need a break from my writing, I get in my car and drive to Tim Horton's for a coffee. I end up driving in circles around Toronto, and realizing that there is not a single person in this whole city that I can call up to chat with, or sit down to have a coffee with.
I suppose that's what it means to be a writer, but luckily that's a price I'm perfectly willing to pay.