Sometimes, when you’re a writer, you are approached by people who are dabbling in the medium. People who–how should I put this–shouldn’t be.
I was recently approached by someone who said they bought my book. Great. I hope they like it. I’m always happy to hear my books are being read…if somewhat nervous and ‘squiggy’ feeling. It’s not about the royalties. They either come or they don’t, right. It’s about someone reading my words and getting something out of them. So, I thanked him and told him I hope the book is a good experience for him. He’s a friend. I appreciated his support.
The thing is, he actually told me he’s not going to read it until I look at something he wrote.
Why am I suddenly this person who has to read your work? It was almost a threat. He has my book…but it’s being held for ransom until I read his writings. Seems like a fair exchange, right?
I try to be nice to everybody who shows an interest in writing. I try to be supportive. I guide them to the best places on the web–and in meat space–where they can congregate with like-minded people and learn more about the craft…and frankly, celebrate the craft with their fellow worshipers. I volunteer on a Board of Directors for a writing conference in my area. I critique the work of fellow writers. I’m an active participant in my local writing community, the WCDR. I try to be approachable and helpful when writers contact me. Sometimes to my own detriment. But I do these things because I feel indebted to the community that has given so much to me. I always feel I have to give back to writing, since writing itself has given me innumerable gifts…simply in the act of allowing me to call myself a writer.
But what’s this bullshit?!
I knew–ladies and gentlemen–right away that I was in for an unpleasant experience. I can tell. Writers…we can tell. When people say, “Yeah…I’ve been thinking about writing a book…about all the wild stuff I’ve done. You know…a biography. I’ve done some pretty amazing things.” When people say things like that, instead of, “I want to write…I want to BE a WRITER”, you know you’re in for a little bit of a nightmare. What I don’t get is the way that these people feel justified in approaching us and throwing their handfuls of loose paper on us and asking, “Well? Is it good?”
I’ll tell you now…before you read any further…that this is a venting post. I’ve been saddled with a handful of loose paper with one-dimensional dreck scribbled upon it. I didn’t even say, “Yes…I’ll read your work.” It was just handed to me, with the assumption that I’ve been waiting for the masterpiece all of my life. Why do people feel okay with this? Foisting their ‘writing’ onto people like this?
So now I’m stuck with pages and pages of, ‘…and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened.’ There is no flow, no voice, no grammatically correct sentences. For the love of fuck, there isn’t even attention to SPELLING! Does this person not have a word processor?!
I have to tell this person that his writing needs work. It’s not ready for the public eye. It will NEVER be ready for the public eye. He will never be a writer. Writing is something that is miles ahead of, “I have a story to tell.” Writing…when done well…is a state of grace. Not everyone with a story to tell becomes a writer. I’m so frustrated right now. I didn’t ask for this. I hate discouraging people. Even if they are bullies who foisted their work upon me. How do I deal with this person?
What gives these people the justification to do this? I don’t like awkward situations. Just sayin’…
I feel ‘small’ for talking about this…but I’m hoping other writers understand. I know we all get the, “Yeah! You’re a writer? What have I read of yours?” or the, “You write? How much do you make?” or the, “You write! How many books do you have out?” or many of the other questions non-writers ask writers. Sometimes you’re afraid to mention the fact you’re a writer in certain company…it’s like you can almost guess what some reactions will be. I can deal with this kind of thing. I just blow it off. Some non-writers think you’re not REALLY a writer until you have books out…and not just books in some cases, but books that they may in fact have read. Or, you’re not really a writer until you can afford to buy the second home from the staggeringly sickening royalty cheques coming your way. I can zone out this kind of noise. It’s the people who are not writers who think they can just throw some words together because everybody is dying to know the gritty and enlightening details of their wonderful life who make me insane. It’s the way they think they DESERVE and have a right to my time. Bottom line, though, is that I could have said NO. I was just cornered at the time…and I felt there was no way out. I guess the rant wasn’t quite over.
Time to face the music…