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michelle25
08-19-2008, 05:07 PM
You must have conflict to write a story and life is full of conflict, so therefore we draw from life to write our stories, right? Well, I led sort of a sheltered life growing up, and I feel I subconsciously sought out conflict just so I could have a story and not be bored. I felt that unless I had something of significance to say, my life would be meaningless. But that isnít healthy, is it? Has anyone ever felt this way? After encountering some pain in life that I weaved into a story I could be proud of, I learned itís not enough. People tell me I must be happy with myself despite whether or not I get validation from others for my efforts. I think this is a big life lesson for me that may transcend the writing forum, but I do believe opinions from other writers are as valuable as opinions from mental health professionals. How do you go about life without caring what others think of you? Or are you like me and thrive on what others think of you?

Toothpaste
08-19-2008, 05:37 PM
It's tough. I know I shouldn't but I do care what others think. But I work every day to try to make that not matter as much to me.

But let me address the sheltered life thing. I too was lucky enough to grow up in a home, with a family and friends where there was very little drama and virtually no truly negative things going. I was very lucky. But I have never felt as if I needed to live life, experience the pain that some of my friends might have gone through. First off because I think it is a little condescending to want to experience the negative things when the people who experience the negative things would give anything not to have. Second because I have empathy.

It's not like my life was perfect. I still got sad and angry, though my problems might not be at the same level as some, to my life, in ratio with my life, they were pretty bad. Use these emotions and translate them to greater situations. There is nothing slight about the sadness you feel vs the sadness someone else in unfortunate circumstances feels. We all have problems to contend with. Learn how to empathise.

As to not caring what others think. I think it is impossible not to care at all, we live in a society after all where it is beneficial for all if everyone is happy and healthy. For that reason we want to attempt to, wherever possible, make life pleasant for others, and have them in return want to do the same for you. This requires them to, if not like you, respect you and your existence. But needing approval from everyone, needing to prove to others that your life is just as painful as theirs, well it will never happen. I know, I've tried :) . You have to work at not caring about every little thing like that. You just have to practice at it. Talk yourself through it. You also have to have accomplishments that alone are pretty impressive and don't require other people to tell you this. So look at your life and make a list of the awesome things you have accomplished. Be it as small as giving someone good advice here on AW. Or getting up first thing to go for a run.

All you can do is work on it. The question is, do you really want to?

citymouse
08-19-2008, 05:53 PM
Michelle My daddy told me that once I realized how little people think I would stop worrying about what they think. Rather simplistic, I know.

You don't say your age but I suspect you not very old. Way back when the earth was young and full of magic, people around me urged me to write a book. Like you, I stated I had nothing to say. Then it was true because, although perhaps precocious, I was quite young and hadn't live long enough got get any flavor; kinda like a cornish game hen. They're cute but not very satisfying.

Then I grew, experienced death, sorrow, immense happiness, health and illness. The stuff life is made of. I also traveled outside of my home and nation. I traveled to Europe, South America and to lands where my alphabet was useless. I learned to ask, listen and above all to remember.
It takes a long time to savor life and then express it in any art form. You'll get there and while you're at it you'll have a good time.

Keep well and be happy.
C
ďPraising people behind their back is monstrously unfair, because the one thing you canít defend yourself against is the good people say about you.Ē ~Gregory David Roberts







You must have conflict to write a story and life is full of conflict, so therefore we draw from life to write our stories, right? Well, I led sort of a sheltered life growing up, and I feel I subconsciously sought out conflict just so I could have a story and not be bored. I felt that unless I had something of significance to say, my life would be meaningless. But that isnít healthy, is it? Has anyone ever felt this way? After encountering some pain in life that I weaved into a story I could be proud of, I learned itís not enough. People tell me I must be happy with myself despite whether or not I get validation from others for my efforts. I think this is a big life lesson for me that may transcend the writing forum, but I do believe opinions from other writers are as valuable as opinions from mental health professionals. How do you go about life without caring what others think of you? Or are you like me and thrive on what others think of you?

Shadow_Ferret
08-19-2008, 06:04 PM
I learned early on that the only person who can validate you, is you. I also learned that the thoughts of others can only hurt you if you let them.

In other words, you're the Captain of your destiny, you're in charge of your feelings and emotions and sense of self-worth.

That said, writing is a very personal and emotional experience. You're essentially cutting open a vein and letting your soul out. So when someone tells you your story isn't that good, it's hard not to take that personally because you poured so much of yourself into that.

They tell me that the first thing a writer needs to do is develop a thick skin. I've tried and I can't. I still take every rejection as hard and personally as I took that very first one lo those many years ago.

So then, if you can't be thick-skinned, you have to be resiliant. Learn to bounce back. Take that hit to the chin, shake it off, and get right back in there again.

Am I rambling?

maestrowork
08-19-2008, 06:34 PM
Everyone is different. Sometimes I envy people who have "colorful lives" -- there's so much experience and conflicts and pain and suffering, etc. to fill 100 books. Then again, I ask myself: Is that really what I want? No. I want happiness and peace and love. And if I never write a book again because I'm happy with my life -- so be it.

The OP has more than one question. First, it's about life experiences and writing. Second, it's about validation and self-worth. I think as far as writing is concerned, we have imagination and also ways of doing research and observe the world around us. And nobody lives through life without any kind of conflicts, heartaches, pain and sorrow anyway, so we can all draw from those experiences. So to me, it's not an either or, but what and how a writer can use all the tools at his or her disposal, and that may include personal experiences, imagination, thoughts, observation, and research.

As far as validation and self-worth are concerned, that's the tough one. Again, everyone is different. Some people can't be happy by themselves, and some can live happily after if no one was ever around. I think you need to find your own grooves -- what makes you tick. But I agree that if you depend your self-worth on external validations alone, then you'll find a whole lifetime of disappointment and sadness because you just can't please everyone. Even the most famous, "well loved" people in the world are targets for ridicules and hatred by many. The more well-known you are, the more people want to trash you. And no matter what you do, what you write, there are going to be naysayers and detractors. There are going to be people who tell you "you suck." My advice is, know yourself -- try very hard to do so -- and focus on the positives in your life. Yes, bad things happen, but we don't have to dwell on them. Learn from them and use what you learn in your art, but you don't have to live in tears constantly to write great stories.

I've spent my life trying to get validation, and as I get older, I depend less and less on others to find that inner peace and satisfaction. And also, I realize I can't write worth a damn when I'm depressed or unhappy -- those feelings don't fuel my writing at all. I have to be at peace, and happy to be truly creative and productive. That's me. But it doesn't mean I can't learn from my experiences when I'm down and out. To me, life's one big continuum and there's no set schedule. And that kind of unpredictability is what's so exciting! (and not trying to provoke conflicts!)

virtue_summer
08-19-2008, 06:47 PM
First of all, as to leading a sheltered life I think it is important to realize that we all have experiences. They're just different. I've led what most would consider a sheltered life and yet I find that I still have almost a steady stream of experiences to call upon because even small conflicts can be drawn big and applied to other situations within stories. I say just draw on what you have and use your imagination for the rest. The important thing is that we've all experienced emotions: sadness, anger, love, etc. These infuse our stories with life. Also, don't underestimate the value of observing other people and learning and borrowing from their lives and experiences as well.

Secondly, as to self worth. I used to feel more needy of other's respect but I'm realizing now that you can never please everyone and the most important person you need to please is yourself. If I tried to please everyone around me I'd drive myself insane trying to accomodate all of their expectations and I'd be miserable. It's much better to focus on pleasing myself (while still respecting others, of course). Self validation is the only kind that will ever last. So I would work to try to cultivate this. Remind yourself often of the things that you like about yourself and the things you do well. As a benefit, I've learned that when you show confidence in yourself other people are more drawn to you.

Shadow_Ferret
08-19-2008, 07:17 PM
The OP has more than one question. First, it's about life experiences and writing.
You're right and I failed to answer that.

My question is, define sheltered? Were you locked in a closet and never let out until you became an adult? I mean, I grew up rather naive, I'm still to this day finding out things that I didn't know anything about or didn't realize actually meant something entirely different.

But I believe if you read, if you follow the news, are constantly learning new things, and have a vivid imagination, that all more than makes up for actual life experiences. We can't all experience tragedy, but we can imagine what it would feel like to: lose a loved one; be in a fight; be injured. To paraphrase an old Nike slogan, instead of Just Do it as a writer we should Just Imagine It.

Then write it.

tehuti88
08-19-2008, 07:22 PM
I'm afraid I haven't really any advice or anything really of import to say, except that I identify with the original post very much. I've been very sheltered but have suffered lots of conflicting emotions and bad emotional experiences over the years (I use the emotions in my writing--I think a decent understanding of human emotions is more important than experiencing great things in life), and writing, as the only thing I see myself as being any good at, has become my only way of really reaching out to the world, and the only thing of worth that I think I can offer. Unfortunately it hasn't been a good experience for the most part, as people aren't that interested in it. As a result this leaves me constantly questioning my worth since the one thing I have to offer is something nobody seems to want.

I realize it's terribly unhealthy to depend so much on the validation of others, especially when I'm never going to get it to the degree that it helps me much, but I have no idea how to stop caring what anyone thinks of me. In fact, I've always cared what others think, from when I was a little child, so to just not care is a foreign concept to me. I fail to see how someone can just NOT care--I think everybody cares what others think, to at least a tiny degree, otherwise they'd just lie in bed all day doing absolutely nothing. (Just my opinion, I could be wrong.) It's a vicious circle, though. I've been rejected so many times that even if I were to get the validation I want I wouldn't believe it by now. Then I just feel worse. Etc.

I'm told to trust in myself and rely on my own opinions over others'; so when I ask how to learn to like myself more, and be more confident, I'm advised to try making friends. When that doesn't work, I'm advised to learn to trust in and rely on myself! There seems to be no way out of it short of some sort of great epiphany, but knowing me I'd find a way to distrust that too. I distrust everything nowadays, having been proven wrong so many times. For example, I used to believe I had some worth in existing, but life has contradicted this so far.

I realize this didn't help much, but again, I know where you're coming from.

Cranky
08-19-2008, 07:37 PM
I've had angst in my life from the minute I was born a girl and not a boy as my father wished. (He freely admits he knew nothing about raising a girl and wasn't really interested in learning, either). So yeah, I guess I might have plenty of experiences like that and much worse to call on for conflicts in my stories.

But it's not something I use conciously. In fact, if a situation I've written is coming too close to my own real life, I tend to shy away. What comes out is either flat and forced or too autobiographical. So I wouldn't worry about being "sheltered". If you've got empathy and imagination, you can dream up plenty of stuff without trying to manufacture drama you can experience in real life. Besides, that kind of thing could easily spin out of your control. Not recommended.

Honestly, I'm going to leave the validation thing alone. I can't organize my thoughts on this.

Tink
08-19-2008, 08:02 PM
You must have conflict to write a story and life is full of conflict, so therefore we draw from life to write our stories, right? Well, I led sort of a sheltered life growing up, and I feel I subconsciously sought out conflict just so I could have a story and not be bored. I felt that unless I had something of significance to say, my life would be meaningless. But that isn’t healthy, is it? Has anyone ever felt this way? After encountering some pain in life that I weaved into a story I could be proud of, I learned it’s not enough. People tell me I must be happy with myself despite whether or not I get validation from others for my efforts. I think this is a big life lesson for me that may transcend the writing forum, but I do believe opinions from other writers are as valuable as opinions from mental health professionals. How do you go about life without caring what others think of you? Or are you like me and thrive on what others think of you?
I don't go through life not caring what others think but I don't thrive on it either. You have to find a balance in this as you do in everything. I must admit, I am sensitive and I do try (I don't alway succeed) to be sensitive to others. Quoting an old saying I must admit--I used to carry my feelings on my sleeve. I am not as sensitive as I use to be. That being said I have learned to chalk others opinions into a couple of different catagories.
#1- That person is right and I do need to make some changes in this or that particular avenue of my life/writing/etc.
#2- That person is being petty and is intentionally trying to hurt my feelings so I do my best to forget it and let it go or get hurt and angry which can sometimes be a big waste of time.

As far as living with suffering/conflict, I have. My entire life seems to have been one long drama. Oh, there has been alot of good times but I did not live a sheltered life. I had my own apartment when I was 16 and 1/2, living as far away from my Mom as I could. I left home young, worked and made my own living and let me tell you, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I have loved and lost. I have lost loved ones that were more dear to me than I can describe here. I have been abused by many. I have had to fight and I have lost a lot of those fights along the way as well. Does this reflect in my writing, yes, some of the times it does but it hasn't made me a better writer. I am still struggling with my past 'conflicts' and to be honest when 'my life' starts to overtake my writing, I tend to shut it down because it is too still too painful to dredge up.
In my opinion, life experiences does have influence in you writing but it does not make you either a good or a bad writer.
Also, caring what others think is important but you can't let it consume you or let it take from your on self-worth.

Red-Green
08-19-2008, 08:33 PM
Validation is for parking. :D

I'm maybe the least comforting person in the world, but I've always gotten by believing a few simple things.

We're not here for any purpose. Or our purpose is no different than your average cockroach's: get along, enjoy things while you can. (Above average cockroaches, well, they've got a whole other ballgame.)

Getting to "happy" isn't always fun. It would make me happy to sell one of my novels, but getting there: not fun. Enough of the process is enjoyable that I keep doing it.

You're always going to care what other people think, but their opinion shouldn't be the most important one.

Most important philosophical concern of humanity: "What's for lunch?"

citymouse
08-19-2008, 08:50 PM
There is one observation I want to make. It is that although we all write from our personal perspective, when it comes to fiction it isn't really necessary to write from experience.
Those who write about murder, espionage, incest, robbery, arson or molestation, most often haven't experiences any of those things. Yet they write them very well. Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, Steve Berry and David Baldacci come to mind.
C

willietheshakes
08-20-2008, 05:58 AM
Those who write about murder, espionage, incest, robbery, arson or molestation, most often haven't experiences any of those things. Yet they write them very well. Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, Steve Berry and David Baldacci come to mind.
C

Anne Perry, on the other hand...

Jackfishwoman
08-20-2008, 06:02 AM
I have had a checkered past with all the ups and downs to write many books. But apart from me, my family is very colourful and I come from an interesting place. So lots of grist for the mill.
Honestly, I have no idea what to tell writers who say they have no life experience to help with writing... I guess I would say, go out and do some living. Never take the easy road.