The Last Remaining Dodo

Wow. I was working on a post earlier today that sounded so self-defeating that I had to stop because I was making myself cranky in the process. A cranky Laura is no fun to be around. I knew I had to put a stop to that before it escalated into something so ugly I wouldn’t dare look at it.

I wanted to compare myself to the last remaining Dodo bird and the fact that Wikipedia told me that “few took particular notice of the bird immediately after its extinction.” A sobering thought and yet for awhile I considered just how much truth there was in that statement.

I mean, how totally self-absorbed does that sound to you?

Tsk! Tsk! I say.

So what if I spend a good deal of my time alone if I’m doing what I truly love? So what if I’m told you should have come along when nobody bothered to tell me they were going? I probably wouldn’t have even noticed what I missed out on, it being after the fact and all. So what if others assume that writers demand constant solitude and the shoulder of another writer to cry on when things are rough? I’m tough. I can take it!

I sometimes think people are frightened of writers, that to some we are scary beyond belief. What’s really going on in our minds? What weird, far out there, thoughts are we thinking? What mental notes are we taking?

But guess what? Before I was a writer I was like every other non-writer out there. That’s if I was to separate the world in that way, which I wouldn’t.

I get that many people find what I do hard to relate to. Many non-writers love the fact that writers have written when there is something solid and tangible for them to hold in their hands, the process of which doesn’t interest them in the least, and maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe that is asking too much, and writers should simply understand that and call it good.

And yet we are not just writers are we? Non-writers tell me about their interests, their desires, their plans and I don’t think I have ever once told them that I couldn’t relate to it.

Why?

Because I relate to feeling their joy, and hearing what’s new in their lives. I love seeing what they are creating even though it has nothing to do with written words. I take pleasure in seeing their faces light up when they have something beautiful to share even if it is not completely finished.

I find it difficult sometimes to keep my writing life and my non-writing life separate especially when I’m excited about some new WIP I’m working at and the person I happen to be talking to is not a writer. Yet I’ve learned over time that most non-writers view the process of writing as if it were a foreign language. And so I try and respect their wishes and keep what I’m working on to myself even if that sometimes leaves me feeling, for a brief time, like the last remaining Dodo.

Have you ever felt like the last remaining Dodo?

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17 Comments

  1. Wow, are you right on or what! I’ve been talking to non-writers this week while doing research for my current WIP. And yes, they give me “that look”. You know what I mean. A cross between admirable and apprehension. LOL. I love it. We’ve come a long way, Laura. We’re not kids anymore. We know we have a gift, and we don’t want to squander it. Hallelujah. If I was a dodo bird this morning, after reading your post, I’m not now.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear you’re not a Dodo, Joylene! LOL!

      Most times I don’t feel like one but there is the occasional time.

      Reply
  2. That’s the great thing about the blogging community, Laura…it’s full of Dodos! Their eyes don’t glaze over when you talk about your writing projects like “non-Dodos” do…they say, “Tell me more!” I’m so happy to have found this “lost tribe” of Dodos!

    Wendy

    Reply
    • lol! Lost tribe of Dodo’s. Very cute, Wendy. I realize this post generalized and I thought later perhaps it wasn’t fair. Maybe I didn’t have all the cranky worked out after all. Although I prefer to think I was being a bit silly. :)

      Reply
  3. Torry

     /  March 18, 2011

    Your a writer? Go figure …. I thought you were a knitter !

    Reply
  4. Melanie

     /  March 18, 2011

    I would imagine it must be difficult for a non-writer to be interested in a process that they don’t understand. For me, friends and family being interested in the finished product is wonderful… since most of them aren’t even interested in that.

    Thanks goodness for the Internet, eh?!

    Reply
    • Yes, I’m sure you’re right! I know it must be difficult for non-writers to understand the process and I suppose I should also say that I do have non-writing friends who do make an effort to understand and it is appreciated.

      I do feel fortunate that most everyone in my life is interested in what I have written. But maybe there are times when I feel like a bit of a misfit and maybe that’s just something I need to ignore. I don’t know…But you must remember that there were many years when my work really interested very few. I suspect it was partly because I never spoke about what I was doing, nor did those few family and friends who did know.

      I think it’s difficult for people to be excited over our publication in a magazine or literary magazine that they couldn’t go into the bookstore and buy even if they wanted to. Having readership is why we seek publication in the first place.

      I’m wondering if, in your case, it’s a matter of people not knowing that you are also a writer. The people who read your articles and your editor certainly do. You’re a very good writer. :) And one day the word will get out.

      Reply
  5. Laura – how do you define “writer?” I guess I never thought that the line was clear cut between writers and non-writers. Is it the type of writing that makes a difference? Interested in your opinion.

    Reply
    • I would likely classify a writer as anyone who writes, Tracy. If you have the inclination to record things on paper or computer. If you put your thoughts into words. I don’t necessarily think a writer has to produce books or even be published. There are folks who never think or even want to express themselves in word. To me they are non-writers. All bloggers are writers. I’m sure there are people who would disagree with me on that and they’re certainly entitled to. Now I’m curious. How do you define “writer?”

      Reply
      • I think the same – people who express themselves on paper because they want to, not because they have to. And, they feel a certain sense of accomplishment when it comes out just right. Memos for work don’t count. So, just write, and just right…is how I would define it.

        Reply
  6. I’ve felt the same way, Laura. When I tell my family and friends about my story ideas or why I’m researching something, they really aren’t interested. Sometimes, I can ‘trick’ them into discussions when I talk about something like burning dry buffalo dung and it smelling like burning grass, but once they know I might use that in a story, they tune out.

    In my late teens, one of my older brothers who would openly confess to being a non-reader became addicted to one of my novels. I couldn’t write the chapters fast enough. As soon as he finished one, he wanted the next. His need to read my book was something I always remembered. He has no interest in the writing process, but it was nice to know I could capture his attention.

    Knowing they are interested in the finished product satisfies me . . . most of the time. It is nice to discuss a plot line now and again with someone, but to be honest, sometimes the process is so personal that no one else gets it but the writer.

    Reply
    • I think family and friends can still be interested in what we’re doing if they don’t understand the process. I actually do have some friends who let me babble on uninterrupted, and I love them for it! At least I do feel fortunate to know that they are interested with the finished product and that is a great thing in itself.

      I think maybe, for us, it’s a matter of not understanding why they aren’t interested in the things we find SO fascinating. But we are all alike in that, no matter what creative process we’re into. I’m sure quilters wouldn’t understand why someone isn’t interested in quilting, etc. I think maybe the important thing is that, no matter what our interests are, that we honour what the other person is doing and be there to support them.

      Reply
  7. Nope, not me! I only discuss my writing with other people interested in writing. I think there are separate compartments in my brain for real life and my writing life, and it doesn’t bother me at all whether or not other people understand my passion for writing.

    Reply
    • I think it may make a difference for some of us that our writing friends are all on line. I don’t belong to a writing group and in the little place where I live, there are no other writers.

      But I think your attitude about it all is probably the best. Keep it separate and don’t expect it to discuss writing with friends who don’t write.

      Reply
  8. I guess I am a Dodo. I spend a great deal of my time alone. In fact, I was telling my husband that when I die few will really notice that I am gone. Sad thought, isn’t it?

    My writing friends are online, none local. I don’t even tell anyone in my family or church or any of my acquaintances “I am a writer”, probably because I don’t believe it deeply enough myself to be secure in saying that.
    Maybe when I manage to actually finish a written project such as a picture book or the novel I have begun, maybe when it looks like something I am excited to share ..

    Dodo’s were quite content to be with other dodo’s where they were unthreatened and safe. I think I can be, too.

    Reply
    • There were many years when my writing was a big secret until slowly a few people began to know. This was after publication for me, and even then it took years before everyone knew I was a writer. I’m sure when my book came out it was the first many of the people who know me had even heard that I was a writer. One day you will feel confident. I’m sure of it.

      Reply

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