WARNING: Turn away; this post is going to be bitchy. If you are not in the mood to hear it, please go somewhere else. Go and read Stuff White People Like which is always good for a laugh. Come back here tomorrow. I promise a jolly post tomorrow.
I always hesitate telling people I’m a writer. I don’t want to hear the words that will force me to dislike the speaker. Once they’re said, there’s no turning back. A big black tick has been mentally placed next to their name and mostly I’m done with them.
I’m talking about non-writers here. People who haven’t a clue about what it actually takes to go from blank page to published book. The hard work and stress of it.
If you’re a writer, you’ve been in my place. You meet a new person (a non-writer) and the conversation goes something like this.
Non-writer: So what do you do?
You: I’m a writer.
Non-writer: Oh yeah. I want to write a book one day too.
You: (disappointed monotone, eyes searching for exit) Oh really.
Non-writer: Yeah, I blah blah blah blah blah…….. blah.
You: Nice, sounds good. I need to go fill my drink.
(You drift away and spend the rest of the time dodging the person)
Why does this conversation piss me off?
I’ve thought long and hard about it. First, of course, there is the undermining of your work. Writing, what a joke- that’s not a real job.
That’s enough in and of itself, but then you have the attitude of simplicity. It is a simple thing to write a book, any Joe can do it. It’s a sort of disrespect of all of the lessons I’ve learned, of the time and effort I’ve put in, of all of the writing I’ve done to get to the place where I’m able to write a book. For the days of re-writes- first, second, third, fourth drafts that still aren’t right. The brutal, ego-bashing search for a publisher. Then when you finally land one, the fight to get them to see your vision, which always ends in a disappointed compromise. The sales figures that have you earning less than the woman who washes your clothes.
And what about talent? Does this not play in somewhere? Fine, everyone can type on a computer or write with a pen- but is it true that everyone can write? I don’t think so.
I know this person won’t stick it out. I know this person will start and then find a reason to justify why he can’t finish his masterpiece, a reason having nothing to do with himself or even the job at hand. A reason that lets him still keep his preconceived ideas in place. He’ll still believe he can do it. Writing a book- Easy ka Peasy.
Or maybe, just maybe, in that rare instance, this person, years from now, will get a peek into what writing a book REALLY means and will remember our conversation so, so long ago and will feel ashamed.
Okay, I’m done now.