Description: Single Female/Superpower: Writing

Deonna

If you are a single woman who seriously writes, this can be a serious issue.

I am a writer with a few books in bookstores around the United States. One book is translated into French and resides in Canadian bookstores. I have heard there are eight graders at a Florida middle school reading my first book during classroom quiet time. This recent discovery means a great deal to me, because that first book is not eight grade reading material (far from it). It is nice to know that a random, unintended audience is paying attention.

Writing is risky, even if you are traditionally published rather than investing in the self-publishing model. One commentator recently wrote that it takes about 10,000 hours to conceptualize, research, write, and edit a publishable book length work. That is 10,000 hours away your family and outside of your day job, and time taken from social activities. In my case, this is time away from my son, developing a new social circle, and in lieu of exploring romance and dating in a post-divorce reality.

There, I said it. Right now, I’d rather write than meet men. Oh, Lord.

Some people view writers as having mythical, superpower abilities. They should. Writing is ritualistic magic. It is invocation. Many of us psychically bleed during the writing process. Real research is often involved. This writing stuff is no small feat. It isn’t for the weak, and there is a reason most people in the world will never write that novel. Writing is hard, thankless work. On top of that, you have to actually be good at it if you want to sell books.

If you want to really write – you also have to accept that a great deal of your life will be spent in solitude, because when writers write, they write alone.

***

If you are a single woman writer, you live a unique, complicated reality. You may desire companionship, but you also desire to write. These are sometimes conflicting needs.

Many potential partners won’t understand writing’s magical realm. Your thoughts will often wander. Once you get into the writing flow, you are in it, and God forbid anyone who tries to pull you out.

For the few who get the writing thing, they will be scared of your profound abilities. They may worry that you will write about them. If you date men, many will insert their ego into your work and suggest that, in the event that you do write about them, please mention that their dicks are big. You will probably take a moment to remind these men that you normally don’t write about such matters.

(Yes, I speak from experience.)

Some partners will celebrate your writing — until you actually write about them. This realization is ironic and sad, but true.

Let me share a personal example. There was once a great guy. Things were going wonderfully until I anonymously wrote about him on an anonymous blog. No names were mentioned, and everything I said was magnificent and good, because he was someone who momentarily brought bliss into my life.

Oh, but then he submitted his response. He felt I exposed too much. Seeing his story in words – my words – freaked him out. He was nice about the freak out. Apologies were issued. Then, he bid adieu to me and the relationship.

Just in case you are wondering, I did not write anything about his manhood.

This particularl man was in awe of my writing. It was part of the attraction. I’m seeing a superstar in the making, he said. His words carried weight, for he read Pulitzers and Booker Prize type of fiction. The realization that my writing turned him away was confusing, hurtful, and disorienting. Imagine the crashing sound of his departure from my life.

If you are a single female writer, there is something else to consider: the average person does not have an audience of any size. Most normal people out in the world do not have personal websites. I am not well known, but because I have books out in the world, I’ve guested on national radio showspopular podcasts,public radio, and Internet talks shows. Unlike the average person, I’ve conducted few public lectures, I have an official blog, and a (rarely functioning and frustrated) website.

A great deal of my life is available for anybody to digest, anywhere in the world. This makes any single woman potentially vulnerable. Yet, this reality also provides a litmus test for potential partners.

For example, I met a man at a conference where I delivered a lecture. He indicated interest. After six months of acquaintance, he surprised me by how little he knew about my life. A mere ten second Google search would have provided massive opportunities to learn a great deal. I couldn’t figure out what part of me he found interesting if he knew so little.

Writing is the great act of freedom and independence, regardless if you make money at it. Writing anything public, be it a blog or a book, is like throwing a pebble into water. Ripples go out from the point of impact. You have some control over who reads your work (hopefully your target audience), but you have little control over their response to it. Your words become ripples out in the world. There is great power in this and some people are rightfully scared of it.

But writing is lonely, especially for women. There is something romantic about the artsy, single male author. There are books and movies about such men. Women writers aren’t often afforded such benevolent archetypes. In fact, we often have to sacrifice a great deal to build even a closet-sized writing “room of our own” in our daily lives.

It isn’t easy finding supportive companions. Words reveal a certain truth that lingers in the world differently than images and sound. This is a scary type of girl power.

Many women write because this is how we create our world. We need partners that have superpowers of their own — mainly, the ability to be a life sidekick to their metaphysically endowed wife/girlfriend.

I end with a witty but accurate quote from a male writer:

“Women writers make for rewarding (and efficient) lovers. They are clever liars to fathers and husbands; yet they never hold their tongues too long, nor keep ardent typing fingers still.”

― Roman PayneRooftop Soliloquy

Originally posted at Deonna Kelli’s blog.

Deonna Kelli is a coffee drinking, ghost hunting American Muslim of global proportions. She has lived and traveled throughout the Muslim world, and her work has appeared in lifestyle magazines such as Women This Month Bahrain and FACT Bahrain. In 2006, Deonna helped establish Elham, the premier grassroots creative arts group in the Persian Gulf. She is currently the editor of Ghostvillage.com and the author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks & Spirits, which is a cultural studies discussion regarding the role of paranormal reality TV in a post 9/11 American society. Deonna’s writing examines the intersections of identity and culture. Visit her website http://www.deonnakellisayed.com


10 Comments on “Description: Single Female/Superpower: Writing”

  1. Saliha says:

    I absolutely love this, Deonna. I found it encouraging and enlightening. Thank you.

  2. Ify Okoye says:

    This is so true, writing is solitary and we cannot control the ripples that spread outward once we make our work public. One of the hardest things for me to reconcile was between my need to write and recognizing how uncomfortable that experience can be for those I care deeply about.

  3. Wahida Afza says:

    Very true Deonna. As a writer, I like the solitary state – but which bothers me the most is someone’s extra cautious expression for zipping up her lips in front of me. Sometimes I like to say that I am not a yellow journalist. Writer’s objective is not pull down someone’s image in the society, she/he rather wants to raise a voice on a social issue where person becomes incident. If a writer writes her story about her time, it will become a valuable history after a certain time. Future generation will be interested on the events, incidents and interaction between humans. Conscientiously no writer wants to be defamed by writing scrap type of yellow journalism.

  4. Joshunda says:

    This really resonated for me. I think it’s true that male writers are lionized in a way that single women are not. And it does seem to take a special kind of companion to rock with us – but perhaps it is all the more sweet when we find them/or they find us – because we know we have separated the wheat from the chaff.

    Thanks for writing this. It named a few things that I’ve experienced but didn’t have words for.

  5. puddledive1 says:

    Thanks to all of your for reading and taking time to comment. That really means a lot to me! I appreciate the feedback more than you know.

  6. Thanks so much for your comments. It means a lot that you took the time to read and provide feedback. I appreciate it!

  7. […] From the “Amen, sister” files: “If you are a single woman writer, you live a unique, complicated reality. You may desire companionship, but you also desire to write. These are sometimes conflicting needs.” – Deonna Kelli on the challenges of being a single woman writer at Love InshAllah. […]

  8. Tim says:

    I would contend that the best time to write is when you’re single, before you have family commitments and a partner to attend to. My beloved begrudges my writing. She tells me (and her friends) how patient she has been, waiting for me to share something I have written. And it’s true, of course. Writing is an antisocial, wearisome and lonely craft. It is not conducive to marital bliss. And of course I am talking as a hobbyist writer — not as one doing it for a living. If I was successful and could spend my days writing, it might be a different matter. But for one who must toil 8 hours a day to feed his family, writing can only occupy the night time hours. So in reality I am less writer, more procrastinator. For procrastination is a more tolerable art.

  9. I have always blogged anonymous(e)ly (play on words – my pen named was AnonyMouse), but at some point, my in-laws found my blog, flipped out, called up my husband while screaming hysterically about the ‘filth’ that I had written (amongst my serious articles, there was a love story about us, despite the fact that no names were used and it was published under a pen name, and contained nothing raunchy or salacious whatsoever), and I was told to delete everything I had ever written online.

    Hah, yeah right.

    I merely reinvented myself as The Salafi Feminist.

    And I refuse to let anyone, spouse, in-laws, or stranger, try to take away my superpower.

  10. […] up with me after a short-lived yet well-matched relationship. He ended the budding romance because I anonymously blogged about him – and I wrote only good things, mind you.  Apparently, it was too much, and he […]