by Kristina Wright
I've always been attracted to people who are different from me. I've read that we seek out the similarities in others-- looking for the common ground so that we can relate. Too much difference in others makes most people uncomfortable. "Birds of a feather," and all that. But I have always sought out relationships with people with whom I have very little in common. Not necessarily the opposite of me; the opposite of me would be a young single child-free religious Republican gay man in an engineering profession. And that's maybe a little too different for my tastes. (I'm also not even sure such a man exists.)
I have no writer-friends in my day-to-day life. That has become more and more troublesome in recent years, as I grow to crave the understanding and commiseration that one can only get from another writer. I'm drawn to (and fascinated by) other creative-types outside of writing-- artists and musicians and singers-- because I lack those talents and wish I had them.
I'm drawn to differences in others because I'm intrigued by what other people are passionate about. I get excited when I hear someone else talk excitedly about something they love as much as I love writing and books. I find myself feeling disappointed if I meet someone who doesn't have some sort of passion, whether it's their job or a hobby. The people I feel most connected to are the ones who are as passionate about something as I am.
I think writers in general are drawn to people who are different from us because our job requires us to know a little about a lot of things. Oh sure, you can always do research, but I've found that it is really nice to be able to draw on the experiences and lives of the people in my personal life. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Probably that.
I'm married to someone in the military, a world with rigid rules and regulations; a world in which I wouldn't and couldn't thrive. Not that I'd be there long-- they'd ask me to leave before the week was out. My circle (and it's a small circle) includes the military and law enforcement and education and counseling and veterinary medicine. Professions that serve the community in some way. Professions that have a hierarchy, a guidebook, a specific and expected way of doing things. In other words: completely unlike writing.
Often, I feel like my job is frivolous-- and I suppose in a way it is. Left on a deserted island with the others, I would certainly be the first to be cast off. (Cast out of the military, cast off the island... I'm sensing a theme here.) In an isolated world that requires structure, order and basic survival skills, a writer is about as useful as a rock. Even less so. At least a rock could be used to kill dinner. I could make a case for my usefulness-- writers are creative problem-solvers, right?-- but I'll avoid taking cruises, just to be on the safe side.
(Interestingly, in thinking about it, I do happen to be friends with a young single child-free possibly religious gay IT guy. Hmm.)