Here’s a part of writing that gets hidden away — not deliberately swept under the carpet but hidden all the same. A lot of people don’t make it. And I don’t mean to publication necessarily. I mean they don’t carry on in the long run. I call them ghosts.
If writing is a marathon (and it is) then it’s one of those ultra-marathons where some people just sort of run off in the wrong direction into the desert (through no fault of their own) and that’s that.
Out of twenty writers I knew five years ago, maybe three are still doing it. People vanish over time. I don’t think they necessarily give up (maybe some of them go through a rebrand or just hit pause for a while) but they do disappear. And that disappearance can be disconcerting.
Some of them announce their retirement by blog or email, but others just slowly stop posting online until you wonder whether they were real at all. Sometimes, the writer in me imagines they were kidnapped, or perhaps they moved to the deepest heart of a jungle in South America and therein discovered themselves. The writer in me wants a resolution because in my heart I can’t imagine stopping writing forever.
If you let it, your support network fades over time.
Gradually, and slowly, so that you won’t notice at first. But eventually all your left with are the memories of community and a few poor souls like you wondering what happened.
We’re all haunted by ghosts. None more so than on the internet. In real life I have maybe three or four on my shoulders, but on the internet it feels like hundreds. Hundreds of souls I spare a thought for now and then, wondering what circumstances drove them to leave writing behind. Hoping that it will never be me.
Today I spare a thought for those souls, and the writers we have lost along the way, for they made me who I am just as much as the people standing beside me now.