Support versus Tolerance

As writers, we seek the approval of others for what we do. We may say that we write for fun, or because we love it, and that is all true. A writer writes because they have to, but we publish because we want to share our work, and in doing so we hope for good great reviews and the respect of our peers.

If you talk to any successful person, they will invariably say that they have a wonderful family who supported them the entire way. Just watch any Oscar speech and you will see what I mean. This is also true, and say what you like about successful businessmen or actors. I cannot see another profession that takes quite the toll on friends and family as that of a writer.

We live in worlds inside our head, worlds that not even our nearest and dearest – unless they happen to be writers themselves – could ever understand. We are moody and brooding when writing because we want to write more or need to work out a particular kink in the mechanics or arc of the story, or we are grumpy and moody because we are not writing at that moment in time. We write down and take a sometimes perverse interest in the crazy things that happen around us because it could be a good story idea at some point down the line. Yet our loved ones stick by us. They support us every step of the way.

I have a friend who is really into these self-help books… or as I like to call them – common freaking sense. However, one point that comes across again and again is to surround yourself with people who love and support you. It is supposedly some big secret to success  (sorry the RANT will stop and I’ll get back on topic now).

What got me thinking was, how can you tell the difference between support and tolerance. Those loved ones that smile and nod their heads when you talk about your writing or sit there plotting, writing and editing. Yet on the inside, just below the surface they are  thinking… “You fool. Oh well, at least it keeps them quiet. Stops them from causing trouble”

Can you still count that as support? Are they a positive influence in your life? They support your writing, but when it comes to promotions, and you want to invest some money or a chunk of time during the day to promoting, they put their foot down and refuse. Where does that leave you?

I am lucky enough to have the important people in my life supporting me, but there are a few that I know merely tolerate my dalliances with the written word, and view my attempts to carve a name for myself as nothing more than folly. They are waiting for me to grow up, to start pushing myself hard in other avenues… whatever they may be… please, send all answers to me on a postcard, because I draw a blank here.

This post is dedicated to these people. The silent partners who suffer us writers and support our every step, without ever truly understand what it is we do, and why. It is also a swipe at those who merely tolerate our actions. You all know who you are, and fellow writers, you probably know who they are too. You may not understand why we do it, and you don’t have to. You should support us unconditionally. We are not asking you to do it for us, nor are we demanding you buy 500 copies of our book to make us feel good and give us a rankings boost. We are merely asking that you believe in us. Smile and nod when we talk about our work, even if it is just like the approach taken by John Wemmick with the Aged P in Great Expectations. We are the ones putting ourselves out there, you have absolutely nothing to lose.



15 thoughts on “Support versus Tolerance

  1. From my experience, you can tell the difference between those who support you and those who merely tolerate you by asking if they’ve read any of your work. Those tolerating you are most likely to, embarrassingly, admit that they haven’t, while those supporting you are the ones asking to read your work before it’s already done.

    Freelance writers don’t get the respect we deserve. I wish some people would spend a day in a writer’s shoes just to see how hard we work for such a small paycheck. Sure, we all have to pay our dues in the beginning and it’s a rough, tough and trying road; however, if we stick with it, hopefully we’ll make a name for ourselves. Right?

    I’m happy writing, so even if I didn’t have support (which I do, thankfully), I’d still do it. You were right when you wrote, “A writer writes because they have to…”

    Great post!
    – jt

    1. I am so glad you liked it. Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

      I agree with the way you can spot the tolerators. There is certainly an increased level of interest in your work with the supportive people. They take the time to ask about things; current and future projects etc.
      I have both supportive and tolerant people around me, but I know who is who so I can always know with what intention something is meant.

  2. Great post! I hate to say it, but I have more tolerant people than supportive *sigh*. Writers are certainly misunderstood. I know I am. it’s been hard for me, because even some people in the writing community aren’t terribly supportive of one another *double sigh*. So, as usual, I end up keeping to myself and doing what makes me happy. I have one amazing cheerleader and she is a co-worker and one of my best friends. She has, to this day, read just about every word I have written and when I’m feeling down, or stressed, or misunderstood, she’s there. And, I’m fortunate to have folks like you online who truly get it. Thank goodness for that.

    1. Thanks for the comment Lisa. I have both tolerant and supportive people in my life, but as you say I think the tolerant ones are the majority. I am kind of a loner by nature I think, and don’t really have anybody I could call a best friend – not in the ‘real’ world at least. But there are a few colleagues who are always asking me how things are going, and askign about what I am writing now and next etc. Sometimes I think I scare them with my ideas, but on the whole they have adjusted to the way my mind works. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by.

  3. A very insightful article Alex. I feel the same way, although I am fortunate enough to have many supporters, and these are people who I never would have expected as well. Unfortunately my husband is more of a tolerator of what I do, and I don’t think he truly understands how much work I put into my writing and networking. Never mind, I made my bed as the saying goes!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I am in the same boat as you when it comes to spousal support. I think the people closest to us probably find it the most difficult to understand. It’s kind of twisted logic I know.

  4. I assume that you’re describing the writer who is creating a piece such as a novel or script – from his or her imagination, for the purpose of self-expression. Things are obviously very different when you’re describing writing as a trade. I do some writing from my heart, but most of my writing hours are, essentially, money-making hours. Yes, I use my imagination on work I produce for clients – but no, living in my own mind and writing from my heart are NOT part of that equation! My husband eagerly supports that type of writing for the simple reason that it’s how I make my bread and butter… though when I’m doing creative work on my own behalf, he’s not so much supportive as tolerant.


  5. I’ve been in the business of freelance writing for 25 years and while, like most of you post-ees here, I’ve had tolerance and support in equal measure. But what I still find true is that so few non-writers understand that what we do is WORK. My (now ex) sister-in-law had a special knack for calling me while I was on deadline and when I told her I was working, the response was “oh, that” as if I was stringing beads. Alex is correct: we write because we must. That’s why I call my website Onceawriter….as in always…
    Keep the faith fellow writers and believe in yourself first, hoping others will follow.

    1. here here. Well said Marie. As long as we believe in ourselves and maintain that belief whatever adversity we may face, then the battle is always swinging in our favor. In fact I have a post on this very subject planned for some time next week. Thank you for dropping by, your comment is very much appreciated.

  6. Great post! I’m lucky enough that my fiance is also a writer, so I have someone to bounce ideas off of (even if we don’t necessarily agree). Even so, I know I’m sometimes needy when it comes to wanting his opinion or feedback (not praise, necessarily, but detailed feedback). I also have a long-distance best friend who loves to read and is always willing to read chapters of my unfinished novel.

    To those of you who are supportors of a writer you love, I hope you know how much of a difference you make! Since my fiance brought up reading more of my unfinished novel around mid-November, I’ve been writing every night, making a lot of progress and feeling better all around.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

  7. Great post for highlighting an important feature of our world. Like Lisa, I have made a living from writing non-fiction for the past 30 years. I have ventured into fiction more recently, because I can. My wife is supportive of my non-fiction writing, because it makes money, but skeptical (tolerant) of fiction writing. I recently spent $300 to have the book I am working on assessed and got some useful feedback. I do assessments for other writers, so it was quite weird being on the receiving end this time. It’s a process I would recommend, as friends and family could really only give me subjective opinions.

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