This week we bid farewell to a violet eyed legend, saw the earth shake in Myanmar and witnessed more of the seemingly perpetual violence in the Middle East and Africa. And while all of these events are worthy of attention and concern, what kept me and other authors buzzing was the news about Barry Eisler and Amanda Hocking. Yes, in the face of events with the potential to change the landscape of the planet, we writers talked about other writers.
Huge book deals both declined and accepted had us blogging and speculating and dragging out our calculators to determine who stands to rake in the most millions and be treated with the most respect. For those of us who live to write and dwell in the publishing world, this news caused the earth beneath our feet to tremble. Long held beliefs took their last breath while new possibilities took their place. Meanwhile those who dwell outside the land of books and Nooks don’t give a rat’s ass.
Only someone with a passion can understand those enthralled with their art. It’s a pity, because writing is a solitary sport as it is. When the people in your life become resentful of the time you spend pursuing your lifelong dream, the loneliness intensifies exponentially. It’s the same for painters and actors and sculptors and musicians. The people around them assume artists are aloof or self-absorbed. They respond by becoming aloof themselves. They take offense. They feel insulted. They don’t realize that without their art, the life of an artist is not worth living. This, I suspect, is why the superstar celebrities of the world are so damned paranoid after they make it big. They lose all their friends on the road to success, only to gain a crowd of supportive buddies who find their work fascinating after they become a star. Suddenly, amazingly people actually want to hear about their work and their journey. Eyes no longer roll or glaze over. No wonder they question the fact that people are so attracted to them, after they’ve seen how quickly friends fall away.
Is the devotion to art worth it? Hell, yes. I’m doing me, regardless. I have had perfect strangers give me more support and encouragement than people I have known for years. The hurt runs deep. But at the same time, on this journey, I have met people who share this passion and understand my urgent need to express. That spiritual connection goes a long way in dispelling the loneliness that results when the people in your life don’t understand you. I have come to pity people who have not identified their passion. It’s like living life without taste buds.