I HAD LUNCH WITH AN OLD FRIEND THE OTHER DAY. Because of her, we have been friends for over fifty years. I suppose that sounds strange to say, but it's true. In spite of a social side I exercise when it's necessary, I am, like most writers, a hermit, perfectly content to be alone, to pursue my own thoughts and interests and creativity. My dear friend, on the other hand, is much more of an extrovert and seeks out me and her other friends when she needs to. I appreciate that she takes the time to do it.
We are very different. I suspect she hasn't read my first book, The Tattooed Witch, in its entirety (although she has never admitted it), and she certainly doesn't read this blog. It may be that historical fantasy isn't her thing. But it still bothered me when I began to tell her about The Tattooed Seer being out and after only a few sentences, she changed the subject, wanting to know about my family. Up until that point, we had been talking about hers.
I'm not going to go into depth as to why I think she did that. Perhaps she was uncomfortable, perhaps she felt she couldn't relate. As I said, we are very different people and a shared childhood is our tie. But it did make me consider how we are different, and from there, to think about how all writers and artists of any type are not like the majority out there. In spite of everyone having some creative spark inside them, we are a minority. A lot of the time, people just don't 'get us'. There is something in us that makes us fan that basic creative spark and turn it into a blaze. Maybe it's sheer arrogance to think we can accomplish anything, but the fact is, we act upon that spark, and we do.
As a kid, I always thought I was special because of that creative spark. I always figured my ideas for building forts or creating games or whatever else were better than anyone else's, including my friend's, although I realized I also needed to accept her contributions. I was bossy and I'm sure, at times, annoying. Later, in adolescence, I learned to get along with people, but I was still often shunned by the popular crowd. That early rejection only made me try harder.
So I wonder, is it rejection that partly builds an artist, a writer? A combination of that early sense of 'I have great ideas', mixed with early rejection by one's peers, which sets off a 'then I'll damn well show you that I am good, smart, and creative, and maybe I'm even better, smarter, and more creative than you!' fire. Those embers burned hot in me when I was young. To some extent, they still fuel me now.
Yes, it bothered me that my friend wasn't interested in talking to me about my book. I forgive her for that. She isn't a writer; it isn't her thing. She has always gotten along well with people. I don't think she ever suffered early rejection like I did - in fact, she was accepted by the cool kids when I wasn't. But because of that, I grew used to being seen as different. It pushed me to try things, to think I had it in me to write, to believe I would publish when the world seemed to tell me I wouldn't.
I love my friend. But of the two of us, I think I'm the luckier.