One of my dearest friends bought me lunch yesterday. I babbled a bit, when she made the offer - we usually have lunch or dinner or drinks at least once a month, and we usually split the check. I wasn't celebrating anything big. There wasn't a reason. So I flapped and spluttered, until she said "I can't write your words for you, but I can buy you lunch." So I calmed down, and said thank you.
I'm pretty much on writerly lock-down right now. I have a major revision to turn in. I'm on schedule to meet my goal, but it's a strict schedule, word count-wise. And that doesn't count my freelance deadlines, which I need to make because I have bills that I need to pay. I'm not complaining about any of that. I am grateful that I have deadlines, that I can put together the freelance work to pay the bills. But it means that writing, which is already a pretty solitary profession, is going to be even more so for me for the next while.
And yesterday was a day, writing-wise. Scenes that were hard to write, that left me feeling sick to my stomach from nerves, that left me in the same traumatized emotional state as my characters. I am scraping at old wounds, as I write this project, and the scars are fragile. But when it hurt, I could remind myself: your friend is in these words, too, and she loves you. She couldn't write my words for me, but because of her kindness, it was easier to get them written.
There are times when, as writers, we're told not to talk. Don't answer back to a rejection, don't engage with a bad review. I'm not arguing with those pieces of wisdom - they make sense. Many of us choose to live our lives semi-publicly, to engage on social media, to share pieces of ourselves beyond our fiction - it helps our work find readers, and most of us write because we want to be read. But because we choose what we share, there's an incomplete picture. For the most part, we talk about sales, not rejections. About the projects we got, not the ones we wished so badly for, and that didn't happen. The days when we made our wordcount, or page count, or got that tricky scene right, not the times that the writing crashed and burned. We don't want to look ungrateful, or like whiners. We share the highlight reel, not the reality.
Even now, I worry that by stating the reality that everything isn't hearts and flowers and gold stars all the time, I will seem to be complaining. And I am not. This is life: sometimes it is hard.
But I am also lucky, and I know that. Because I have people who love me, and who will buy me lunch, because they cannot write my words. Because my Mom sends me pictures of puppies in silly hats to make me smile, and boxes of cookies in the mail. Because sometimes what appears in my inbox is a letter saying a story that I wrote mattered to someone. Because I have you, and you read what I write, and your kind words are the hoard that I hold against the bad days.
Because that matters, so much, even if it seems like a little thing. So thank you.