To the Relationships I Have Neglected in Order to Become a Better Writer
I have a certain innate intelligence that comes with being well read, but the structure and discipline required to be a student are not core attributes. Enrolling in grad school, I knew enough about myself as student to recognize that it would be an uphill battle.
When I began the actual work, I learned just how shortsighted even that was. Schoolwork consumed me and I retreated inward. If writing is what I believed to be my calling, how had learning the craft become one of my greatest challenges?
My first novel took eleven years to complete; a lot of life happened in the middle. The first draft was written over the course of my sophomore year in college. It stayed on a floppy disc until 2008, when I worked over a year to edit and publish it as a novella. In 2012, after quitting my full time job to write, I expanded the story to novel length. If I were pushed to estimate, there’s two full years of intensive editing over that period.
The manuscript that I decided to write in grad school was supposed to be a spinoff of the first novel; told from the perspective of a secondary character. I was met with so much resistance and advised that there were things that are problematic about the original characters that would not lend itself to this being a well-structured novel. Back to the drawing board. I put my head down, my laptop on, and focused on creating an entirely new narrative. I read more and went out less. I was unapologetic about missing social events to map out a chapter, finish a scene or simply daydream about the day the story would be complete.
What I did not give the same commitment was maintaining relationships. I built this great bond with the characters I was writing at the expense of the bonds I shared in real life. I have friends who I have rarely talked to over the course of my program; some I have not talked to at all. I’ve missed milestone moments in the lives of family members. Know that it not easy realizing all of the memories I am now not a part of. There are late night chats I’ve missed, shows we could have binged together or the trips we could have taken. I have been disconnected. For that I am sorry.
This is not only addressed to the friends, family and good acquaintances that I have missed time with. It is also a letter to the missed opportunities and the strangers who could have become allies. It is for the potential collaborators I’ve forgotten to respond to. The clients that I could not take on because of my already stretched capacity. It is an olive branch to the kindred spirits I’ve met and exchanged contact information with; great people that my tunnel vision prevented proactive measure to remain connected. I simply did not have the bandwidth or head space to be completely engaged.
Having finished up graduation requirements I am beginning to think more critically about life post-graduation, and I cannot help but wonder how many relationships are now irreparable. I understand there will be a few but with those of you who are willing, I want to share all the moments I’ve experienced in this time. I want to hear about your moments, too. We can pick it up right where we left off or start anew. Let me show you the woman I have become through this time apart. She’s pretty great and has matured in magnificent ways.