A few days ago, I was relaxing with a few friends of mine, and they asked me how my life has been, and what I have done in the last year. I can say it has been a very life-changing year for me, and for the person I’ve become. One of the biggest changes was my willingness to be open, and to be honest. Most of my readers on Living a Life of Writing will recall I made the personal choice to ‘be out’ in the writing community. I had expected some people would not be pleased, I’m LGBT and proud to be a part of the community, but even I didn’t expect the backlash from this post.
Because of this post, I was put into a position where I had to look at what some had said. Some, I could dismiss very easily, and others were very hurtful- on both a personal and professional level. I can understand this is still an issue which causes division. I expected the inevitable loss of followers, but I never expected to feel like a complete failure as a writer and a human. I had to think long and hard about where I wanted to go as a writer. I had to be comfortable with who I am, before I could become a better writer.
Part of the challenge of being a writer and a lesbian is I am judged not only on my writing, but on who I am as a person. I am not only responsible to myself, but my writing is given more scrutiny and is open to more criticism than if I was simply a “writer” (there is nothing about simply being a writer, it’s more based on the idea people see your work and not you.) Social networking has both helped and hindered my ability to become better as a writer. Your ego can take a hit time and again because there are always critics, and should they know facts about you, they can be even more deadly. Having some networks in place helped a lot.
With Twitter and Facebook there were some, but not a lot of relationships I developed that helped me through this difficult time. I wanted to quit writing, and I wanted to quit a lot of things. Judgements can hurt the soul, or it can force a person to look and see if there is a grain of truth in what people have said. The reality is there is a grain of truth to what the people who argued I wasn’t a great writer.
I looked back at one of my first posts and found myself laughing, a good heartfelt laugh at this rather overly positive post. I was rather naive in thinking the creative journey of a writer wouldn’t change me as a person, and I have to say I’m glad I was wrong. All good things, like being naive, must end, and over time it did.
This naive mentality ended completely when I posted that ‘coming out’ post, it proved how much I had changed as a person. I wasn’t just a writer, I was someone whom people hated, and made it clear this was exactly how they felt- it was painfully hard, and it helped me. On reflection, it forced me to become a better writer. It forced me to see the depths of pain, and it forced me to confront the truths I tried to hide from others. I had ‘come out’ to close friends and family many years before, and in general, most didn’t care or get mad at me. I expected much the same reaction from my readers. In a way, I had to prove to my readers I am a good writer.
I also had to prove time and again I am willing to fix mistakes, because there will be those who will (and have) said my writing is good, but they don’t want to critique- because of who I am. Others see no problems in ripping me down to my soul to see me fall. Being a writer is like that, you take the good with the bad, and you grow- with a lot of pain.
Being a writer who is ‘out’ just simply means more of my views are judged and looked at differently. Some people assume I write and then lead a very different life from other writers- that it is something I will give up on- a phase if you will. I don’t, but I’ve learned the concept of becoming a better writer. I am who I am, but I can always be better in many different parts of my life.
Part of being out means facing the truth about yourself as a person and a writer, you’ve got to be 10X better otherwise you will give up too easily. There are many times when my lack of communication has come back to haunt me, but there are as many times when I can see my communication has improved when I accepted parts of myself I wouldn’t normally try to understand.
Being out does not mean I have no friendships with men, rather they take on a new meaning for me. As a writer, I have to ask questions, and learn and grow. I’ve learned the art of seeing the world through different eyes – and with my male friends, who are more open to ‘telling it like it is’, because they understand I am just me, a writer, a friend, a part-time counsellor, a lesbian, and a human, – I will always be learning and growing.
Being a writer who is out means I have to grow and be better as both a writer and a person. This is what I was able to tell my writing friends that day. I am better as a writer because I am who I am and I am willing to be more than what I was.