I had a recent experience with someone mocking my pursuit of a writing career. More accurately, they considered me weird for the things I write and create. Am I surprised?
Hell no! I AM weird, I take pride in it.
I've been a little different all my life.
When I was younger, I'm sure my parents wondered why I didn't take to more traditional interests for a boy in Central Maine. While I did take an interest in mechanics (my family trade), I didn't choose to spend most of my free time doing so.
I was an early adopter when it came to video games, beginning with Frogger on the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600. I spent countless hours navigating my square avatar through "Adventure", gobbled white dots as I ran from multi-colored ghosts, squashed Goomba's, and ground out experience in the wilderness surrounding so many fictional cities that I've lost count.
The expression, "Get your head out of the clouds", was far less common then than it is today (and I'm not sure that my parents ever used those exact words), but I'd be fooling myself if I thought they understood me much at that age.
Don't get me wrong, my parents are the two of the greatest human beings I've ever known. They humored their strange progeny (yes, I'm referring to myself) more than most parents would. No doubt they were hoping that it was a phase and I would either discover a lifelong affection for wrenches, wiring, or carpentry. They wanted to make sure that I would develop an interest in some marketable trade, but they still stuck with me.
They worried about me the same as any parent worries about the future of their child. It's their job. I've already started planting seeds with my son, trying to nudge him into using his interest in Manga, computers/electronics, and video games towards something more marketable than a beta tester. I give him some slack though, because I've been there (plus, he's eleven. lol).
My reason for recounting all of the above is this-I GET that I am often misunderstood. It's not an entirely new occurrence in my life. My son is undoubtedly having many of the same experiences. He goes through phases where he dies his hair bright red or some other primary hue, wears different types of jewelry or clothes, etc. Some people look at him and think that he is strange. I understand him well enough to know that he is trying out some of the styles that he sees in Manga and Anime-no big deal.
In many ways, society has evolved to swallow my son and I instead of further ostracizing our geekiness. Grown adults with full time jobs and mortgages now own multiple gaming consoles. Science Fiction movies are commonly most profitable in theaters. The world has gone geek, so to speak. (Yes, that was intentional)
So why do I consider myself weird, in a world that is increasingly coming around to my way of thinking?
Easy-I earned it. I wear my geek cred proudly, and I teach my son to do so as well. If you don't like the world, change it. But don't change it by imposing your will on others. That has never been an effective means to exact the modifications you seek. You change it by embracing your differences with others, what separates you from the herd, and enjoying every minute of it.
In my writing, the underlying premise is always to get the reader to relate the characters dilemmas to their own. I want my readers to imagine themselves in the same situations as my characters and draw conclusions from how they would have done things differently. Fiction-as in life, is an ongoing process of discovery. If you aren't looking for new ideas, new experiences, you are essentially reliving the lives of those that came before you. That gets us nowhere as a race.
It's a common tenet of intelligence to test the limits of ones surroundings. Animals in cages will test the walls of their prison until they are convinced that there is no escape. With us (humans), we've added yet another layer of abstraction. Communication has opened the door for deceit. If you trust someone to check the walls of your cage for you instead of checking them yourself, you delegate your free will to the morals of someone else.
So seek out your own answers to life's unending questions, don't take the word of those that would choose to tell you what is acceptable, common, or even real. If somewhere along the way someone has a problem with the way you do things, let them. It's not your place to help them figure YOU out. Your only responsibility is to understand yourself.
PS: Most writers are weird. We're a sordid bunch, we really are. Calling a writer weird is like calling an model photogenic or a Sculptor "Crafty". We not only have to deal with reality (to varying degrees), we create entirely new realities in our head, then have to make millions of decisions as how best to convey that world into the mind of others using only 26 letters and punctuation. When you get a taste of what it is like to be god, even for a seemingly insignificant world of fictional characters, it tends to warp your mind a little.
Bear with us.