Odd MAN Out

I’m different.

That’s not just a feeling, but a statement. Oh, I possess ten fingers and ten toes like everybody else, but ever since socialization became my expected way of life I’ve known that the rest of the world and I didn’t see eye to eye. Comparing my view of things to those around me developed into an obsession more consuming than any debilitating OCD. My reality became dependent upon how I was perceived by my peers, existing solely as an impression in the eyes of others. In high school, refusing to laugh at immature jokes and cruel pranks, while others held their sides and shed tears of laughter, became the equivalent to social suicide. In college, something as innocuous as small talk could be pure torture. The struggle to exist on the same plane as those around me was mentally and physically draining, with minimal success. Why was I the only one who seemed perfectly content to be alone with the thoughts inside their own head, and everyone else considered reflection to be exclusive to time spent in front of a mirror?

I’m not sure when I actually became okay with being different, probably shortly after I was married. I had somehow managed to climb over the biggest social hurdle there is (actually my wife pulled me over it), and I had a great job I really enjoyed, so outward conformity became much easier. For years and years it remained that way, until something life-changing happened.

Have you ever taken a wrong turn and ended up stumbling across someplace special? A hidden alcove full of wonderment and knowledge, one you would have never known about had it not been for your poor sense of direction. And in that place you are accepted without hesitation, made to feel right at home, even lavished with praise and gifts for the simple act of caring.

That happened to me when I started writing again and ventured blindly into this blogging community. You might think that as a writer, becoming part of this virtual world would have been a dream come true. Look at its advantages…hundreds and hundreds of creative minds and imaginations sharing their innermost thoughts with one another, inspirational stories of accomplishment and even more up-lifting tales of morale support of one another. There’s just one catch. As comfortable and inviting as this community is, I found myself once again feeling like the odd man out.

Even though two-thirds of Bloggers in general are male, there’s very few men blogging in this particular arena. Of the 530 ‘Like Minded’ following me now, only 44 are men (and much fewer than that actually leave comments). That’s only 8.3% . Seventy-five percent of bloggers are also younger than the age of 35, so I’m on the steep slope of that bell curve as well (I’ll be 54 in December).

But the biggest separator of all is the genre I write in. I’m an adult mystery/suspense guy. I play around in other genres with my short stories, but at the end of the day it’s the mysteries I come home to. But most of the blogs in this community belong to YA/MG kidlit writers, with a smattering of other genres sprinkled in. I don’t even read YA. I’ve not read Harry Potter, Twilight, Hush Hush, Shiver, Wake, Beautiful Creatures or Speak. I did read Hunger Games, but only so I could see for myself what the fuss was about. At times it’s difficult for me to connect with topics being posted and I wonder if that wrong turn I took that landed me here, was a mistake.

Oh yeah, I have no interest in NaNo either. I don’t write that way.

Like I said, I’m different. But here’s something I’ve come to realize in the blogs, and I take comfort in it. So are you! Being different means being unique…original…an individual (waves at Nicole)! Most of us are wanting to stand out...without being seen. A writers mind doesn’t work like anyone else’s. A writer is perfectly content to be alone with the thoughts inside their own head, immersed in imagination. Introversion is the rule, not the exception for us. We come alive in the written word, but stumble over our own tongues in public forums. We paint language, each on a different canvas using unique interpretations, but fully understanding the trials and tribulations behind the effort of others. We are all intoxicated by our craft and shrug away the opinions of those who cannot understand.

I am different…just like you. We each stand alone…together.

If you feel different, now’s the time to speak up.

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37 comments

  1. Hey, there is nothing wrong with being different! In the writing world that is exactly what you need to do. It will get the attention of an agent and readers. I think you're awesome, and it's important to be true to yourself!

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  2. I have a large portion of older, male followers, which I think is due to my Sci-Fi and crime fiction leanings. I also have a smattering of mystery folks. Then there's the random locals and friends who stalk me.

    I don't know why YA writer-bloggers are so prevelant. I had never even read YA until I started blogging. Then YA assaulted me, and won, and I sort of enjoy losing to it despite my passion for hardboiled urban fantasy.

    Scribble to Scribe

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  3. I know exactly how you feel and everything you said rings true in pretty much every aspect of my life. Although I don't write YA and have no intention of ever doing so, I'm like you and am glad to be around so many writers. I write speculative but currently more the horror branch and there are very few readers of horror not to mention writers. I just think of it as an opportunity for us to teach each other things and ot helps to make us well-rounded writers and just well-rounded individuals in general. Beautiful post, DL! I'm glad I found you in this blogosphere.

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  4. I think we share a similar story. And yes, my wife yanked me over as well.
    I'm happy being introverted me, although blogging has changed some of that.
    You'll be happy to know I have no intentions of writing young adult, either.
    Oh, and I'm over 35. Won't say by how much though!

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  5. You might feel different but you probably have a lot in common with the rest of us. I think many of us have felt the same :)

    I'm also don't do the Nano thing because it really doesn't suit me. But whatever you do, keep writing. You happen to write in one of my favorite genres to read!

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  6. It was almost like you were writing about me. I am also one of the rare males in this, also over 40 and not doing YA. Unlike you, I think I tend to feel a bit left out in this writing blogosphere. I think so many out there are so into the YA/paranormal/urban fantasy stuff that they don't really relate to the adult fantasy and sci-fi that I write.

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  7. Amen brother!

    And you hit the nail on the head: being different--together!--in this writer's community is about the best thing there is!

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  8. I agree with every bit of that. Every.bit. Awesome post, DL! And go you.

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  9. I think you have more "different" things adding up for you than I do, since mostly, the thing that's different about me is the genre I write. Did you know that I have yet to find even one children's writer who blogs? I found one group of critique partners who did children's but they were only interested in their own group. Sometimes it can get discouraging, but I just take heart in the fact that when it comes time to get an agent, I'll have a leg up because I've already learned so much and I'm not going into thinking that it will be as easy as writing down a rhyme. So, different actually does help :)

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  10. I'm super social, was always popular in school and got along with all the different groups. l have a lot of friends now too, we entertain a lot, and get invited to parties constantly (which I love to attend when I can, and feel comfortable even in a room full of strangers and public speaking does not make me a even little nervous)...but I'm also happy sitting quietly by myself.
    (Maybe I'm an introverted extrovert? Or an extroverted introvert? Whatever I am, I'm comfortable with who I am, and always working to improve and learn. And that, my friend, is the key to happiness. )

    Anyway, my point being that not all writers are shy/antisocial. (though I do recognize that many are)
    (it's a shame you are, because you have a wicked sense of humor that should be shared with the world.)

    I LOVE that we're all different...and yet all people, everywhere, have more in common than not.

    Age is only a number. I know some 20 year olds that are more mature than some 60 year olds. And some 50 year olds that are a lot more fun than most 30 year olds. I have close friends ranging in age from their early 20's to their mid-60's (which is older than the people that spawned me).
    The only part of the age thing I am NOT liking (I turned 40 this year) is...the age thing. In my head I feel like I'm 25. But the mirror says otherwise. *sigh*

    Anywho, unique is spectacular and lovely! Wear it proudly.
    As Wendy Ramer said in her post today: Bee you.

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  11. Oh, and I wonder why there are so many more women writers blogging than men?
    But, I'm thinking that's to your advantage...you stand out.

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  12. Well, it seems we have much in common. I honestly could have written this myself, it's that true in my life. I constantly waver between wanting to "fit in" in the blogosphere and "being true to myself."

    Some days, I find they are not mutually exclusive, after all. Thanks D.L.

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  13. In my family, I'm the fiction among their non-fiction. I'm not following the same path (career and family) that they follow. I'm the super-friendly, outgoing, customer service oriented employee at work who suffers from social anxiety outside of it. So, yeah, I'm different. But I'm okay with that. Different is fun and fascinating. :)

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  14. Beautifully said! I've often been the odd one out in my life - and once I became an adult, I realized it was okay because we really all are unique. It's interesting how many writers feel the same. :)

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  15. Hey, I think it's really refreshing to have a male, action/mystery perspective in this circle of ours. I am 42, so I hear you on the age thing. There are days I feel positively ancient, but oh well. You're right - we are all different. We are all the "odd man out" at times. BUT...we really are all in it together. :-)

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  16. I LOVE different! And I love that you speak with honesty.

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  17. You should look into Myer-Briggs personality typing. I only mention this because I see the world completely different than the vast majority, but it makes sense because my personality type (INFP) is one of the less common ones.

    (Given that you mentioned being completely fine spending time alone with your thoughts, I'd figure you are probably an Introverted iNtuitive type, also.)

    (I'll take it a step further and say that I think you are at least an INF_, but am not sure if you'd be a Perceiver or Judger.)

    Admittedly, I'm a nerd about the personality typing thing, but I consider it to be fascinating. It really explains a lot about who we are and how we interact with the various types around us. Maybe you'll be interested, too?

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  18. Well said!

    I feel kinda different too. I have noticed the prevelance of YA/MG writers, but also Urban Fantasy. Yep, sometimes I miss out on contests and things because I don't read/write those novels - or twitter or FB.

    But, I've found plenty of friends - yep even in those genre's - who I appreciate the writing talent and interraction with. some of the writing advice helps too, in my genre. (Not always sure what that is.)

    Everyone is unique, and that makes us totally the same.

    Have a nice day DL. Thanks for brightening mine.

    .......dhole

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  19. Great post. As a fellow male blogger, I too feel out of place at times blogging about books/writing/literature/etc. I am a fan of YA lit, so I have that going for me at least. :)

    Sometimes it's good to be going against the grain...it often produces some of the most interesting material.

    Keep it up and revel in the differences. :)

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  20. I don't do NaNo either. Nor do I get involved in a lot of the "contests" that other bloggers participate in. We all lean towards what interests us the most. There isn't much fantasy that interests me. I love mysteries (like you) and KidLit and especially memoirs.

    So, this is what makes the world so interesting--our differences. And yet, most of your followers and mine love to write and to read. We have this in common.

    As for the division between the sexes on Blogger, my followers are almost all women. Which again shows that we all have different interests and relate more to certain personalities than to others.

    And if I don't connect with what's posted on a particular blog, I don't come back to it. We make choices according to our interests.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post!
    Ann

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  21. I feel different in the fact that writing professionally is not something I've wanted to do my entire life. So many in the blog community have known since childhood that they were going to be writers, and sometimes I end up feeling a little bad about taking a very different journey to the point where I am today. Still holding out the hope that it all happens for a reason.

    I'm also with you on the YA. Love and respect, for sure, but I don't read it often and would be over the moon if I could find some more adult epic fantasy bloggers.

    Thanks for posting this!

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  22. Well said, DL. There's nothing wrong with being different. Nothing at all. I think that's what makes the blogging community so cool. Having such a diverse community helps us to learn things we never knew we wanted to know.

    Oh, and for someone who doesn't read YA you sure have all the names of the top reads memorized. LOL. :D

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  23. Okay DL. You're hitting new heights of genius with every post. You are so right. You totally described me at "we want to stand out without being seen."

    We may not all write the same thing, or be the same gender, religion, or species, whatever. But we're kindred spirits in our writing.

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  24. For being different, you've certainly struck a chord with everyone today!

    I think being different ought to be celebrated. I know I'm different and while sometimes it sucks to feel separated from the crowd, I wouldn't change it for anything.

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  25. Your posts are always so well thought out, DL. The way you analyze things... understand things... you really get at the fundamentals behind things most people glaze over.

    I appreciate that you are one of the few male/writer/bloggers that I follow. You are different from many (I suppose all of us writers are... and that's why we find each other), and that's why you stand out (At least to me).

    So you read The Hunger Games... what did you think?

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  26. First off, your profile pic doesn't look like yor're old enough to have kids in college, lol!

    Like I tell my son, there's nothing wrong with being different. It's not a right or wrong thing. It just IS.

    I'm different, too. There was a short time, when I was a wee lass, it was harder to be that way, but I didn't then and don't now change to suit others. I'm me, take it or leave it, lol! and don't even care any more what people think about it.

    I do love our writing bloggers. Male or female, none of them are dull or boring. I just wish I had more time to read everyone's blogs instead of hit and miss.

    Enjoyed your article, sir.

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  27. Well said! That's the great thing about writers in the blogging community - even though we're different, we're all in this together. I'm amazed at how supportive everyone is and I'm so grateful for the many people I've met who get the need to write. And I'm so glad to have found your blog!

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  28. Are you sure you're not looking at someone else's driver's license? On what planet are you 54? You look 20 years younger!

    This is a great post. I write adult thrillers, and I'm female, and I'm finding that there aren't as many of us blogging as I thought. I'm always in search of other mystery/suspense/thriller writers... they're out there, but they're just not blogging as much as the YA writers are. Which is too bad. So I guess it's a good thing I follow your blog :)

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  29. Here here! *creepy lifts her champagene fluke* What I love about the writing community is how so many different people from different places and different writing genres come together through love of the craft. I have noticed most of us are (youngish) womeen who have a preference for YA or women's lit. But that just makes you men out there a welcomed addition! You're like, our pimp. lol.

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  30. *Waves back with a giant grin*

    So many thoughts are sparring, each one wanting me to write it first. Individual, stand-out, different than the masses -- these aren't modifiers of the odd man out. These are things to aspire to. The slush piles are stacked high with sameness. Summer and I were looking at book covers yesterday in B&N. She's right. They all look the same (especially in the YA section, where the most popular cover art "look" is a single object, blurred around the edges or overlaid with artistic masks). I gravitate toward the unique, in the bookstore and in life, and I think many people (and industry insiders) do too.

    The thing I love most about this post, though, is your honesty. This was another topic of conversation with Summer. Blogs are supposed to be a platform where the blogger dares to speak up and discuss his or her own truth. That can become more difficult when you have a larger audience. The tendency may be to shy away from comments that may alienate or upset, preferring to stay in the safe zone of neutrality. I commend you for speaking up, and for encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

    Just one more reason I'm proud to call you my friend!

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  31. You? Odd? Pashaw! Surely not! ;-)

    It's our uniqueness that makes us all one great big happy family, right?

    I enjoy each and every oddball I meet, you included. Nice, fuzzy feeling post...I loved it!

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  32. Different is good - it's great, even! As Kristen, said, it's what will make you stand out. And I'm with you - I always loved being alone. When I was little, sometimes I'd just run away from my friends and go read a book!

    Different rocks!

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  33. I for one am glad you "happened" by. I didn't realize so many men blogged, but I guess there's more to the blogging world than writers. I have a friend who writes women's fiction and she laments that she can't find her online kin. The YA writing community seem to be "larger" and successful that way.
    I'm a bit of an odd ball myself. When I was younger, I was very outgoing, an out spoken extrovert. Over the years I've turned into the quiet observer who'd just as soon stay home than go out and make small talk. Plus I'm easily old enough to be the mother of most of my crit partners. :)

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  34. Back again. I've got an award for you over at my blog, and it's one you don't have yet!

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  35. JP ~ Thanks bud! Us dudes have to hang close to keep the wolves at bay!! :)

    JM ~ I just recently took that test, and I'm a INFJ! :)

    Kelly ~ Being a late-bloomer writing-wise is nothing to be ashamed of. It's where we are now thats important.

    Lydia ~ I'm glad you latched onto that line...because that really hits home for me as well!

    Sia ~ I can thank my parents good genes for my young appearance. :)

    Kristi ~ What else but a fuzzy post from a Teddy Bear? :)

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  36. **clapping**

    AWESOME post! I love this community of oddballs. And as impossible as it is for a writer to say this, I feel connected.

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  37. You may have been the odd man out at one time, but now you are splendidly unique. It doesn't matter that you aren't in the majority, because you bring a wonderful perspective of the minority. So many people feel like the oddball. In fact I just read a great fantasy where the MC realized exactly that. He felt like the odd man out, but even though he was different due to his upbringing, he wasn't off center by as far as he'd initially thought.

    Just remember to embrace your uniqueness. That's why we're all here following you. ;)

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