The Art of Being Neighborly #TheWritingLife

OLA-BCLA-Lending-a-handLast time you checked in, I was telling you that you’re going to end up being a bitter husk, so I’m really thrilled that you actually bothered to come back.  Today, I thought I’d give you some light to go with that dark — balance, you know?  I stand by what I said last post, so don’t think that’s where I’m going.

No, today I’m going to tell you another thing nobody will tell you about this life — because it is a lifestyle.  Don’t try to pretend it’s just another job, it’s not.  Like dairy farming and working on an oil rig, writing takes your all — it’ll eat your soul and your offspring and spit you out years later as a used up, insane bag of blood and organs.  But we all have to go somehow, so why they Hell not go like this?

But, here’s the thing.  It’s a hard, hard road scraping for work, looking under every rock.  You need a friend.  You need a lot of friends, in fact.  Find your fellow writers out there on Social Media — they’re everywhere, just like mosquito larvae in a kiddie pool — and learn how to be neighborly.  We’re generally a friendly bunch, we help each other out and bond to survive.

I’ve found no one who better understood my condition and who could talk me down after a hard 12-day stretch of non-stop writing than my fellow inmates.  Nobody knows who’s running the asylum, but we’re damned sure going to pull together while we’re in here.  Oh, a few will go off and get some electroshock and a real job, but for the rest of us, it’s this — forever.  And, contrary to what I may have implied before, that’s OK, as long as you’ve got some pals.

I grew up in a place where the smell of cow manure meant spring was around the corner, so I had a lot to learn about the real world when I found myself in it.  But I’ve discovered a lot of the same values that farmers hold dear are there in our writing communities.  You’ve taken on too much work and can’t get it all done?  Phone a friend.  Someone is always willing to rearrange their entire schedule to help.

Of course, you have to BE a good neighbor to GET a good neighbor, if you know what I mean.  Be open, be honest, don’t be selfish, help your friends.  You may think that you’re outpacing the competition by being a miserly dickbag, but the truth of the matter is that we’re no more in competition with one another than the zillions of musical artists or television actors out there.

Sure, we may go after the same jobs, but those folks already had an idea of who they wanted before they created the opportunity.  They only bother to look at samples and interview us to get a better idea of who best matches their criteria.  We’re not in competition, so we might as well be in cooperation.  If you’re good at your job and keep yourself visible, you’ll never struggle for work, no matter how many friends you help.

Remember, to get a neighbor, you have to be a neighbor — and that’s something bigger than a friendship.  Neighbors help each other out in tough times, neighbors pull together to reach a larger goal and neighbors look out for one another no matter what.