Like a bra, unsupportive people are useless.

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

87. Dealing with people who are unsupportive.

I feel for people with this problem, I really do. Personally, I’ve been lucky enough that it hasn’t been much of an issue for me. I’ve had people in my life who perhaps were disinterested or indifferent about my writing, but rarely have I had to deal with someone who was outright unsupportive. The most important people in my life have always been perfectly supportive of anything that I chose to do (for the most part) with my life, and most people I’ve known have reacted to my writing with polite interest and the occasional, “Good for you!” The most unsupportive people I’ve really had to deal with were the occasional reviewers who critiqued my work based on personal opinion and tastes, which is something that any writer is bound to have to deal with in spades.

Despite the luck I’ve had, however, I’m not naive… I know that there are plenty of writers out there whose families/friends/spouses/etc are monstrously unsupportive. I’ve read blog posts from writers whose significant others scoff at them for “wasting time” on writing. I’ve spoken to fellow NaNo novelists whose families and friends laugh at them for bothering with something so “stupid and pointless”. I’ve heard about school kids whose parents and even teachers have scolded them for bothering to waste their efforts on “useless stories”.

And it’s sad. Writing, like other arts, has a stigma attached to it that basically boils down to, “you ain’t gonna make any money off that, so why bother?” That’s depressing for two reasons. One, that attitude in and of itself is the epitome of being unsupportive because you don’t know if you can make a living off of something until you try – that’s true of anything, not just the arts. Two, even if you’re not interested in making money, the bad attitude suggests that writing is pointless even if it’s just a hobby. Consider that for a moment. If someone works hard all day and then goes golfing during their down time, well that’s their prerogative – it’s their time to do with as they choose. But if someone else works just as hard and then uses their spare time to write, it’s all “what a waste of time” and “why don’t you do something productive?” and “what’s the point of that if you’re not going to make any money off it?”

This is a generalization of course, but it’s something that plenty of writers put on with on a regular basis.

Without any personal experience there isn’t a whole lot I can say about dealing with unsupportive people. My instinct is to say, “cut ’em loose” because people who can’t be supportive of your decisions don’t deserve to be in your life. That becomes sketchy, however, when the unsupportive person is the spouse you love very much, or a parent when you’re a minor under their roof. So I guess the best advice I can give is to understand that there are people out there who are going to be unsupportive of your goals and dreams, and that sometimes you’ll have to put up with them for a while, but you don’t have to listen to them. Stay strong, believe in yourself, and when you become hugely successful you can turn around and laugh in their stupid, unsupportive faces.

Dealing with (Imaginary) Death

My daughter loves Sesame Street. She knows a ton of characters, even if she can’t quite pronounce them all (“Tookie! Ahnie!”), and if we’d let her she’d have our living room television playing episodes and specials all day, every day, until the Elmo’s World theme song made our heads explode.

If you can handle ten hours of this a day, you are the toughest person I know.

It is for this reason that my husband tracked down “40 Years of Sunny Days”, a special done a few years back that documented a bunch of famous scenes from over the first (first!) 40 years of the show’s life. I popped the show on the other day, partly for the little missy, but also partly because I was curious to see which of the scenes I remember from my childhood would pop up.

Tell me you don’t remember this, I dare you.

At one point – I believe it was somewhere in the “Years 10-15” section – a scene came on that I’d never caught when I was a kid because it was an old episode by the time I was watching. It was the episode where Mr Hooper dies and the adults have to explain to Big Bird about death. In the scene, Big Bird has drawn pictures of all his adult human friends and is passing them out as everyone oohs and ahhs over what a great job he’s done. When he comes to the end and asks where Mr Hooper is so he can give him his picture the adults go silent and look at each other like no one wants to have to be the one to explain it. They take turns explaining to Big Bird (“Don’t you remember? We told you that Mr Hooper died?”), who reacts with the same kind of misunderstanding, anger, and distress that a small child might. Eventually he comes to grips with what the adults are telling him and says that he’ll miss Mr Hooper, as he hangs the picture he’s drawn up at Hooper’s Store.

I won’t lie; I almost teared up. The baby, of course, had no idea what she was watching, but I certainly did. Strangely, though, the primary thought that was running through my mind as I watched the scene play out was, “How hard must it have been for the writers to prepare this scene?” Unlike writing the deaths of fictional characters, the writers for Sesame Street were writing about the actual death of a man they’d worked with, who had been on the show for many years and was an important part of the world which they’d created together. He wasn’t just a character, he was their friend. I can imagine it would have been even more difficult for the actors who had to perform the scene. In fact, one of the other actors, Bob McGrath, was quoted as saying, “I couldn’t go near the store for about a year after he was gone” and the scene in question was done in one take because the crew was too emotional after the first try to do another one.

The whole thing amazed me quite a bit because of how emotional I can get when my completely fictional characters are killed off. Even though these are people who exist only in my own mind, I’ve found myself nearly in tears when it came time for one of them to die. Maybe that means I’ve written them to be likable. Maybe it just means I’m a huge sook. Either way, it can be surprisingly difficult sometimes. I’ve even been known to fight with myself over whether or not I can change the story so that the character doesn’t have to die. It’s this attitude that is making it so difficult for me to figure out the (eventual) ending to my fantasy novel. Logic dictates that one of two particular characters has to die in order for the ending to make sense, but it kills me to do that to either of them.

Do other writers deal with this, I wonder? I mean, without the character in question being someone they actually knew?

Day 1, New Adventure

It has been a loooooong day.

I got up this morning at approximately 1 am. Never a good way to start the day, but there you have it. I grabbed a shower, and tossed my luggage in the car while my husband was (groggily) getting his shower. Together we went in to wake the baby, and were surprised by her happy acceptance at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. The little bugger.

Then we drove to Halifax, a three hour drive in the middle of the night. Always a good time. 😛

Waiting at the airport was the worst, because while I was waiting to head down to security all I could think about was saying good-bye to the baby, which just made me feel more and more ill as the time went on. Strangely, once I’d said my good-bye and gone through security I felt much better, but up to that point, I definitely wanted to barf. Luckily the baby took the good-bye well. Don’t know if that makes me happy or sad.

Going through security was fun. (Ha.) I ended up having to take off my boots because apparently they have metal in the heels. Huh.

On to the flight deck! I’ll tell you, the airplane was not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s because I’d only ever seen the inside of an airplane via Hollywood representation, but I was amazed at how small it was. I’ve heard all the usual complaints about cramped seats and lack of leg space, but just the overall size of the plane itself really surprised me. I felt like I was in a toy. Really.

The flight itself was reasonably enjoyable. Contrary to my previous beliefs that I would be struggling not to vomit everywhere, I actually really enjoyed the takeoff. It was neat watching the ground disappear beneath us, and when we hit the clouds it was like a sea of fluffy snow in every direction. I wish there had been less cloud on the overall journey because I didn’t get to see much else, but it was still pretty neat. My only real complaint about the entire flight was the descent…not because of turbulence or anything like that, but because my ears felt like they were being stabbed by a hundred screwdrivers. I expected my ears would probably pop, since they pop just going over Kelly’s Mountain (hint: it’s not a high mountain), but I wasn’t expecting the level of pain that I experienced. O.U.C.H.

So I landed in Toronto and did the whole thing over again, except the second flight was longer and I was seated next to an exceptionally overweight man. I don’t want to sound mean or anything, but the guy’s arm and side-fat were spilling over into my seat and making me very uncomfortable. I can only imagine how he must have felt, squeezed in a seat that is far too small for him. Because of this little issue, the second flight was not as enjoyable as the first, but I occupied myself by watching Deathly Hollows Part 2 and an episode of Just for Laughs. This time, when we were descending, I tried chewing gum to help with my ears. It didn’t help. Even now, 7 hours off the plane, my ears still hurt and feel like they’re full of cotton. I’m getting a shower after I finish this post and I’m praying the steam helps clear my head because goddammit, ouch!

The camp itself is definitely a bit of a culture shock for me. As I mentioned before, I’ve never had the dorm experience, so I’m going to have to get used to things. The room is small, but nice, and there’s a women-only exercise room that is well-stocked. The dining area made me a little uncomfortable, simply for the fact that I don’t know anyone and the tables are meant to seat 4-6. I ended up sitting at the only table for 2 and shoveling my food in as quick as possible so I could get out of there. I’m not one for eating by myself, but I’m also not the type who can just stroll up to a group of people and ask to eat with them. Double-edged sword. In any case, the food was pretty good. There were several choices of veggies, meats, deserts, etc., and there’s also a “bag-it” room where you can get things like pre-made sandwiches and wraps, fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt and pudding, etc etc. It shouldn’t be too hard to find things to eat each day, is what I’m saying.

And now I’m sitting in my room, wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the night. I’m pretty exhausted, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep. The hot shower might help with that, I suppose, but it’s also still really light out. It’s hard to believe that back at home it’s almost 11 pm. I’ve been awake for 21 hours. Yikes. Maybe I will try to go to sleep. 😛

Tomorrow continues the adventure! Wish me luck!