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MightyScribbler
01-11-2007, 04:54 AM
I'm guessing some of you have experienced some or all of the complaints I have about non-writers.

Non-Writers - They're Everywhere. They look like us, they sound like us, but they're not one of us.

1. They come to your sacred writing venue and hang out or try to get you to leave with them, and when you resist they point out that you can write later or another day. You explain that you have a schedule and you must stick with it, but they give you the old "whatever" response, as if you're giving them a fake reason why you can't go as their date to the prom.

2. They come to parties you are attending, and when you tell them you're working on a book they a: roll their eyes; b: say "good luck with that" without even trying to mask their sarcasm; c: respond with the sound career advice of "don't quit your day job;" and my personal favorite: d: "I hope you're not serious."

3. When you tell them you're sending it out, they remind you of the obstacles, the unfavorable statistics, as if you weren't more aware of them than they were.

4. When you tell them you just finished your book, they give you the name of a printer who will give you a great deal on the first 100 copies.

5. You tell them you're writing a book and they ask (as if no one has ever asked you this question) "what's it about."

6. They tell you they are an avid reader and a great candidate to read your book. So, you give them a copy, which they use as a coaster and never bothering reading a single page.

7. They tell you they've got a great idea about a book, and it's something so cliche (e.g. Alien conspiracy/attack).

8. They don't understand the commitment, for to them it seems like your writing is a simple, silly hobby.

9. They don't get that writing is a full-time job, or at least a second part- time job. You must treat it as if you need this job to pay your rent, and no, you can't not report to work tomorrow.

10. You've announced you've finished your book, and they tell you about a great career conseling program, because now that you've got that writing bug out of your system, it's time to focus on more important, practical, realistic things.

11. They tell you "it's not like you have a test coming up" in response to your rejecting of their proposal to blow off your writing and go play with them. You respond that eventhough you may not have a strict deadline, you must treat it as if you did have a test on Monday, and study or not, that test is on Monday, and you need to ace it. (I guess this was an expansion on #1)

12. They ask you to do them a favor (ride to the airport, moving furniture), because you have nothing better to do with your day off. You explain that you're writing that day, but they hear "I'm watching TV all day, I would help you but I simply don't want to, because I'm a selfish inconsiderate person."

wmd
01-11-2007, 05:06 AM
My wife used to be like this, but she is finally coming around ;)

janetbellinger
01-11-2007, 05:09 AM
Boy, you must know some really rude people. Nobody I know would do any of those things.

Del
01-11-2007, 05:41 AM
The thing about non-writers is without them it would be really hard to write.

Hand a story to a writer and hand that same story to a non-writer and see which gives you the most grief. :)

Writers are very hard readers to please.

BlueTexas
01-11-2007, 06:42 AM
Funny, the thing I run into most is people who believe anything can be easily published...not the people you're describing. Weird. Course, I also have an IUniverse author in the family, so I don't say much about it at all.

(Not that IUniverse is bad, not bashing here, just saying that's not the route I want to go.)

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 07:26 AM
I run into most of these people off and on over the years. It doesn't bother me anymore. My friends and family are, I think, aware at this point that I will take a certain amount of crap before I just walk away and do what I need to do.

Friends who don't understand, or aren't willing to at least tolerate it, tend not to remain my friends very long. It's cold, but I have no qualms over it.

Of course, the worst of all is the "Don't quitcher day job, ha ha ha!"

veinglory
01-11-2007, 07:29 AM
I have a simple solution. I 'pass'. I'll tell people when I can actually pass them the book.

Mandy-Jane
01-11-2007, 07:31 AM
I hate it when they use the word "little". For example:

"How's your little play going?"

"How's that little book you're writing coming along?"

Little? What on earth is little about it? Grrrrrr.

Anyway I can't complain, because I have some non-writing friends who ask me at every opportunity how it's all going (and they never use the word little). They also constantly offer to take my kids away to play with their kids for a few hours so I can get some writing done.

Now that's nice!

Shwebb
01-11-2007, 09:00 AM
My mom gave me info once regarding an essay-writing contest. The prize was a trip for one to a writers' retreat in Europe and $10,000, I think.

My mom thought that if I would enter, then surely I would win. And since she told me about the contest (which I already knew about, anyway) then I should have to split my winnings with her AND take her with me to the retreat.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 09:04 AM
My mom gave me info once regarding an essay-writing contest. The prize was a trip for one to a writers' retreat in Europe and $10,000, I think.

My mom thought that if I would enter, then surely I would win. And since she told me about the contest (which I already knew about, anyway) then I should have to split my winnings with her AND take her with me to the retreat.

When she does half the writing, she gets half the profit.

I had some silly teenager offer to edit my novel, years ago, if only I'd split my earnings with her. People are Very Silly.

Simon Woodhouse
01-11-2007, 11:57 AM
I get the impression that some people think if it takes a week to read a book, it only takes the same amount of time to write one.

BlueTexas
01-11-2007, 12:22 PM
I get the impression that some people think if it takes a week to read a book, it only takes the same amount of time to write one.

Yup. That really bugs me. Another one I forgot - people will tell me a story, an anecdote really, and then ask if they should publish it. Sure, I say. Where, they ask. I direct them to the library copy of Writer's Market and giggle to myself...

seun
01-11-2007, 01:34 PM
I get the 'why don't you write for the local paper seeing as you write books?'

The intimation isn't just that a writer of fiction can write anything, it's that the management of the local paper would be thrilled to give me a job without question.

A particular favourite is being told to chase an agent who rejects me to find out what's 'wrong with your book.'

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 06:05 PM
THe other inescapable is, someone finds out you're a writer and brags about What A Wonderful Writer their husband/wife/child/parent is, on account a' them winning this contest and having their poetry published in this beautiful book what they all bought a copy of!

Wow!

Neat!

If I haven't had my tea yet, I'll tell them that poetry.com's a scam, and direct 'em to the site that shows all the gibberish they've accpeted in the past.

Self-publishing authors are also really annoying. They'll come into my bookstore with a biiiiiig stack of their Adventures on the Trucker's Trail and they'll have a sales pitch lined up for me, and they'll have bookmarks and product information sheets and all this.

Drive me nuts. I hang up on the telemarketers we get at work. COming in and hawking your book isn't any different.

Rolling Thunder
01-11-2007, 06:56 PM
These are some of the reasons why only a handful of people know I write. Most of them take one look at me and question the fact that I know how to read.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 07:05 PM
I wouldn't mind all the Non-Writers around, but they tend to band together if you start trying to thin their numbers. It's such a downer.

MidnightMuse
01-11-2007, 07:29 PM
These are the reasons why almost no one I know knows I write. My mother and stepfather are under the impression that the instant you write a book - all you have to do is send it to "one of those people" who then publish it and pay you millions. They're convinced the only requirement to getting published and put in a bookstore is finishing a book and mailing it "somewhere" and they're equally convinced every author on this planet makes millions.

So I don't talk about it. Not one of my friends knows what I do, and I never mention it - even casually - to strangers.

MightyScribbler
01-11-2007, 07:43 PM
These are the reasons why almost no one I know knows I write. So I don't talk about it. Not one of my friends knows what I do, and I never mention it - even casually - to strangers.

I use to not tell people. But, then I figured that I may unknowingly run into an agent or, and more likely, someone who knows someone who knows someone who is a reputable agent.

I also get told about all the scams when people know I write. Poetry.com, Sobel, etc. I guess I can't expect them to know any better, I know I didn't at first until I began the researching markets process. I suppose they're just trying to help.

Meerkat
01-11-2007, 07:45 PM
There is going to come a time...all these non-writers, they flit around laughing and dancing, with no introspection, no analysis of the nature of the conflicts all around them, and no abstract notions worth writing. Oh sure, they READ and enjoy--but they cannot create. But there will come a time, and it will be a cold winter. And the only ones who survive will be not the readers who gather what acorns have fallen to them, but the writers who know how to CREATE the acorns to begin with. The acorn of writing. We'll show those bad non-writers! We'll show them ALL!

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 07:47 PM
There is going to come a time...all these non-writers, they flit around laughing and dancing, with no introspection, no analysis of the nature of the conflicts all around them, and no abstract notions worth writing. Oh sure, they READ and enjoy--but they cannot create. But there will come a time, and it will be a cold winter. And the only ones who survive will be not the readers who gather what acorns have fallen to them, but the writers who know how to CREATE the acorns to begin with. The acorn of writing. We'll show those bad non-writers! We'll show them ALL!

Yeah! ANd we won't let 'em touch our nuts neither!

:D

Carrie in PA
01-11-2007, 07:48 PM
There is going to come a time...all these non-writers, they flit around laughing and dancing, with no introspection, no analysis of the nature of the conflicts all around them, and no abstract notions worth writing. Oh sure, they READ and enjoy--but they cannot create. But there will come a time, and it will be a cold winter. And the only ones who survive will be not the readers who gather what acorns have fallen to them, but the writers who know how to CREATE the acorns to begin with. The acorn of writing. We'll show those bad non-writers! We'll show them ALL!

ROFL!!! :roll:

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 07:49 PM
What will probably happen is, we will have not the faintest idea how to make fire, hunt, kill (half of us will be vegetarians, the other half in caffeine withdrawal) and we'll be lazy and want to write instead of this "foraging" business and we'll die.

Whereas some big rednecked guy in his red plaid will just go wrangle a deer and not particularly change his life much, except he don't watch Nascar so much no more.

MightyScribbler
01-11-2007, 07:59 PM
There are some non-writers who are great, and very supportive, so I should acknowledge some of them as well I guess. It's just that the ones who try to drag me down seem to have a greater impact than those who try to boost me up.

My fiancee is great, she proudly tells everyone though, and when I'm in a frustrating writing stage I kinda don't want to talk about it with strangers.

My dad is great, very supportive, but my mom interrupts him every time he tries to proudly tell people. I overheard her once say to him "you can tell them if he publishes the book, until then it doesn't count so keep quiet."

I guess you have to have thick skin for more reasons than just rejection by agents/editors. And I guess you can either pick between being insulted or motivitated by what you encounter. And motivated = productive.

Kate Thornton
01-11-2007, 08:31 PM
I overheard her once say to him "you can tell them if he publishes the book, until then it doesn't count so keep quiet."


It counts. We all know how it counts.

Toothpaste
01-11-2007, 09:16 PM
I have actually a very supportive support system. My parents, number one fans (ditto grandparents, they are so cute about the whole thing). And my really close friends really believe in me (many of them are artists though so . . . )

What I find the funniest (and this goes with my acting too) is when I have certain friends, not super close friends, but people you see with some frequency at social gatherings and stuff, and these friends know all about what you do and are genuinely interested and stuff. And then they see you act, or see a play you wrote, and you come up to them after the play and they are genuinely shocked how good it was. I had this one guy say to me, "Wow you really CAN act!" And another just could not stop talking how surprised he was that I wrote that play. I mean it is very flattering, but it does tell me that they never really believed I was actually good at what I did. This gets to me. I mean when I meet a doctor I assume he's going to be a good doctor. Ditto architect etc.

I know I know, there is a certain level of required training with both, and in this day and age of people just wanting to be famous, doesn't matter how, I guess everyone is skeptical. Still. Grr.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 09:17 PM
I have nothing to add, I just had to reply to get the Calvin & Hobbes pictures next to each other.

:)

Shwebb
01-11-2007, 09:22 PM
Oh, yeah--my husband says he wants me to write more. On the outside of it, that's nice. He'll even tell me when he sees something that would be a good fit for my writing style.

But he doesn't stop to consider that I have to share the computer with two preschoolers and take care of them and a 13-month-old.

Oh, yeah, I'll just tune everything out, let the kids play with power tools and swing from the blind cords. Ignore their plaintive pleas for attention and food.

Doesn't affect my concentration at all. No, sir!

engmajor2005
01-11-2007, 09:38 PM
My family is supportive in the sense that they're not ashamed. They're not supportive in the sense that laptop open=work, and I am not to be bothered. Nor do they understand that self-publishing is great for hobby writers, not those wanting to make a career out of it.

Quoted almost verbatum:

"I don't understand why you're going through so much trouble to find an agent when you can just go to (insert vanity press here) and let them publish your book. (Local author that self-published that whose name I can't recall) did and her books are in Barnes and Noble and everything."

Also, on vacation one morning, I took my laptop down to the breakfast bar in the lobby and wrote for a solid hour. When I returned to the room I announced to everybody that I had passed the 200 pages mark on my novel. The response?

"God, how long is that book."

I have also proudly announced to them that I have finished my novel and I'm starting on another one. Or that I've had something published. Or that I just finished a tough passage I'm working on.

"Great."

My friends are very supportive. They don't always read what I offer to them, but they never belittle what I do or make light of my accomplishments. The family? I'll discuss writing again with them when I have an agent, and then again when I sign the contract.

Meerkat
01-11-2007, 09:44 PM
I have nothing to add, I just had to reply to get the Calvin & Hobbes pictures next to each other.

:)

The best laid plans of mice and PeeDees...oft go awry of the page break.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 09:46 PM
Hush. You're just mad at the lack of Pumbaa pictures for you to line up with.

RJLeahy
01-11-2007, 09:49 PM
Until my book came out, only two people even knew I was writing. My favorite response was from my father, he of the Alzhiemer's When It's Convenient Syndrome: "When the hell did you learn how to write?"

benbradley
01-11-2007, 10:10 PM
5. You tell them you're writing a book and they ask (as if no one has ever asked you this question) "what's it about."

Maybe I don't understand the (as if no one has ever asked you this question) part, but this seems like a legitimate question, and gives you a chance to talk about your book. Is there something I don't see here?

Del
01-11-2007, 11:02 PM
Maybe I don't understand the (as if no one has ever asked you this question) part, but this seems like a legitimate question, and gives you a chance to talk about your book. Is there something I don't see here?

A verbal description of your writing is like a bad review. It will never do your work justice.


Them: "What's it about?"

Me: "It's not something you can actually explain. You'd really need to read it."

Them: "When can I read it?

Me: "I'll give you a copy when it comes out."

Them: "When will that be?"

Me: "Oh, it could be years."

Them: Hesitation "Oh."

End of discussion.

RJLeahy
01-11-2007, 11:22 PM
A verbal description of your writing is like a bad review. It will never do your work justice.


Them: "What's it about?"

Me: "It's not something you can actually explain. You'd really need to read it."

Them: "When can I read it?

Me: "I'll give you a copy when it comes out."

Them: "When will that be?"

Me: "Oh, it could be years."

Them: Hesitation "Oh."

End of discussion.


I have to disagree with this. If can't explain what your book is about in a few sentences, you're in trouble. Every agent and publisher will demand it. Your query letter is basically the written form of just this very thing-- a short (a handful of sentences), discription of the book.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 11:24 PM
I generally have a couple of stories that I can describe quick and easyin a few sentences, and I tell them to people, even if they're not what I'm working on.

"What are you doing?"

"Writing."

"Oh. What's it about?"

"It's about what happens if a Troll eats Thor, god of thunder, and then must take his place in Ragnarok."

"Oh.......you know what you should do, you shoudl write a story about the staff of a McDonald's, I bet that'd be really interesting."

"I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."

Even if you properly describe your plot, you're going to end with the hesitant moment and awkward silence.

Toothpaste
01-11-2007, 11:55 PM
There PeeDee! Together at last!

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 11:58 PM
http://www.comicon.com/thebeat/Calvin_and_Hobbes_comics_cartoons_freecomputer_des ktopwallpaper_1280.jpg

MidnightMuse
01-12-2007, 12:15 AM
There simply aren't enough frogs and toads around here.

The few times people ask me "What do you write?" I answer "Science Fiction, mostly. Occasionally a murder mystery." to which I hear "Oh, have you read that new Harry Potter?"

I answer with a blank stare, which they don't notice, and the conversation is basically over.

MightyScribbler
01-12-2007, 12:43 AM
Maybe I don't understand the (as if no one has ever asked you this question) part, but this seems like a legitimate question, and gives you a chance to talk about your book. Is there something I don't see here?

Yeah, it is a legitimate question. I guess I wish people could respond with something more like "what genre?" or even ask about the process, or simply find a more creative way of asking this question. I've just heard it so many times and I'm guessing that at least half of those who ask aren't genuinely interested. It's like asking someone at a party what they do when deep down, you know you don't care.

I had a writing teacher who told me it was bad luck to tell people what it's about until it's finished. I try to stick to that. But when I decline to answer I get something like "Oh (awkward pause) ok!" and When I do answer they start throwing out their ideas on how to improve it, a book they've never read and no little about.

badducky
01-12-2007, 12:57 AM
*Gack* it's like a thread was devoted to describing my entire giant family.

I suspect the real problem is that the only people who have any inkling of what this is like run their own businesses. In fact, when meeting people out and about, the business-owners tend to "get it". The employees... not so much.

Birol
01-12-2007, 01:05 AM
I have also proudly announced to them that I have finished my novel and I'm starting on another one. Or that I've had something published. Or that I just finished a tough passage I'm working on.

"Great."



My mother used to respond to such moments as these with, "Don't worry. You'll make it one day."

I finally told her she could only say that until I won the Nebula or Hugo, then she had to quit because, by anyone's standards, I would have made it then.

Now that I think about it, she hasn't said that in awhile. She stopped about the time Mac and I started the 'zine.

engmajor2005
01-12-2007, 02:01 AM
My mother used to respond to such moments as these with, "Don't worry. You'll make it one day."

I finally told her she could only say that until I won the Nebula or Hugo, then she had to quit because, by anyone's standards, I would have made it then.

Now that I think about it, she hasn't said that in awhile. She stopped about the time Mac and I started the 'zine.

My mom and grandma like to remind me that some authors don't get famous until they're dead. That's a real uplifter.

I know my parents will be proud when I do make it, but it's ironic. Right now, they view my writing as a sort of hobby, but when I make I know they will consider it a real job.

Oh wait, no they won't. Job=labor or customer service. Never mind. :rolleyes:

Birol
01-12-2007, 02:02 AM
Just point out to them that they will likely die before you do, so that the only members of the family who will be able to reap the benefits of your hard work are your kids and grandkids. ;)

engmajor2005
01-12-2007, 02:16 AM
Just point out to them that they will likely die before you do, so that the only members of the family who will be able to reap the benefits of your hard work are your kids and grandkids. ;)

One problem: I've made it quite clear that I am NOT having kids.

My brother and his kids, maybe, will reap the benefits.

And in all fairness, I doubt they (my family) would hound a piece of the pie.

Judg
01-12-2007, 02:53 AM
Honestly, I think you're a little hard on people. How on earth are they supposed to know the ins and outs of an industry they're not involved in or the processes of something they've never done. Put us in a room full of engineers or nurses or even event organizers and we'd probably not do much better.

I don't introduce myself as a writer because I haven't actually finished anything yet, so I would find it pretentious on my part. My family and some friends know I'm working on a novel and few have any questions. Reactions have been supportive for the most part, but I talk about it very little. I'm only going to bore them, so why bother?

I get unsolicited and misinformed advice on virtually anything I talk about, so why should writing be any different? If they mean me well, I accept the bad advice in that spirit and forget about it at the nearest opportune moment. If they just want to demonstrate their superiority, I just twitch an eyelid and get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. People like that are not going to be convinced of their own need for humility no matter what I do. Life is too short to spend it banging my head on walls.

MightyScribbler
01-12-2007, 02:55 AM
I always wonder if the nonwriters are assuming that the odds of you not being successful are, perhaps, better than the odds that you will be successful. I mean, they are, but if you have that attitude you'll never accomplish much or get much out of life. Some of the nonwriters I have encountered don't believe I'm writing, and I find these are also some of the laziest people I know. Maybe if they think I'm spending as much time watching TV as they are, they'll feel better about themselves.

I think some just love saying "I told you so" and have even bet money against me, so maybe if they give me unsupportive comments or try to distract me, they'll up their chances of winning the bet.

LeslieB
01-12-2007, 03:24 AM
Honestly, I think you're a little hard on people. How on earth are they supposed to know the ins and outs of an industry they're not involved in or the processes of something they've never done. Put us in a room full of engineers or nurses or even event organizers and we'd probably not do much better.

I think that's very true. Any career that is off the beaten track has things that ordinary people have no idea about. My pet peeve with my job is I work in a crime lab, and the CSI shows have given people a lot of weird ideas about what we do. And what we make. "You can't work in a crime lab. You drive a ten year old Toyota Corolla."

My family is generally supportive about my writing, but I seldom tell people who don't already know that I am working on a book. I've gotten the "yeah, right" eyeroll one too many times.

Willowmound
01-12-2007, 04:20 AM
No one ever looks at me funny when I say I write. Sure, I have a quick temper and will stand no crap, but they don't know that if they've just met me at a party.

But there's more.

A friend of mine said of a friend of her's (someone I've met but don't know myself), "she says she's a writer. But she's not a writer, she just likes to say she is."

"I say I'm a writer."

"Yes, but you write."

"How do you know this girl doesn't?"

"I've never seen anything she's written."

"You've never seen anything I've written."

"But I know you're a writer."

:Shrug:

PeeDee
01-12-2007, 04:46 AM
I hate it when in casual conversation that I happen to be nearby for, one of my friends will mention to one of his friends (whom I do not know) "This is Pete. he's a writer."

"Oh."

"Hi."

"Hey."

......................awkward pause.....................................

My mom got stuck on the idea of publishing with Lulu a little while ago, because I published a couple of books through them (by "published," I mean "printed.") They were just old stories, serials that I had no intention of ever selling to anyone but wanted a nice copy of.

So every time I finish a book, she asks if it's going up on Lulu. Oy.

(Another funny aside: I mentioned that I'd sent a query letter to an agent. I got an excited phone call an hour later from my mom congratulating me and excited about this agent, and what did she think of my book and who was she going tos end it to, and what was happening, and........My answer that I'd only sent a QUERY letter mostly fell on deaf ears.)

Judg
01-12-2007, 05:45 AM
My mom got stuck on the idea of publishing with Lulu a little while ago, because I published a couple of books through them (by "published," I mean "printed.") They were just old stories, serials that I had no intention of ever selling to anyone but wanted a nice copy of.

So every time I finish a book, she asks if it's going up on Lulu. Oy.

(Another funny aside: I mentioned that I'd sent a query letter to an agent. I got an excited phone call an hour later from my mom congratulating me and excited about this agent, and what did she think of my book and who was she going tos end it to, and what was happening, and........My answer that I'd only sent a QUERY letter mostly fell on deaf ears.)So explain the industry to her. My oldest son is lead singer and composer for a band that has progressed way beyond garage band status and is hoping for a contract with a recording label. So over the last few years I have had all kinds of things explained to me: how recording sessions work, their video clip, their CD's, their demos, what their agent does for them, the advantages of touring, the effect downloadable music is having on the industry and on and on. I knew very little of it before he told me about it.

Seeing as she is your mother, I am presuming she is intelligent enough to understand if you explain it to her. Query letter is a meaningless term to someone who has never had any contact with the publishing world, so if you haven't defined it for her and also explained how many have to be sent, how many a typical agent receives in a day and so on, of course it's not going to enlighten her any.

In case you can't tell, I'm on your mom's side... ;)

lfraser
01-12-2007, 05:45 AM
I'm really fortunate, since I'm surrounded by people who write for a living in one capacity or another -- academic, legal, business -- and who understand the highs and lows of triumphing over the blank page and the need to have not only quiet time to write, but also time to just be still. Every now and then I have to issue a gentle reminder that, while it may be true that I am writing fiction and doing so as a rank amateur, the need for those things is just as real for me as it is for them, but by and large the fact that I am writing has been treated with respect and enthusiasm.

engmajor2005
01-12-2007, 06:38 AM
Honestly, I think you're a little hard on people. How on earth are they supposed to know the ins and outs of an industry they're not involved in or the processes of something they've never done. Put us in a room full of engineers or nurses or even event organizers and we'd probably not do much better.

I don't introduce myself as a writer because I haven't actually finished anything yet, so I would find it pretentious on my part. My family and some friends know I'm working on a novel and few have any questions. Reactions have been supportive for the most part, but I talk about it very little. I'm only going to bore them, so why bother?

I get unsolicited and misinformed advice on virtually anything I talk about, so why should writing be any different? If they mean me well, I accept the bad advice in that spirit and forget about it at the nearest opportune moment. If they just want to demonstrate their superiority, I just twitch an eyelid and get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. People like that are not going to be convinced of their own need for humility no matter what I do. Life is too short to spend it banging my head on walls.

If you put me in a room full of nurses, engineers, or event organizers, I'm not going to pat them on the head and say "Oh that's so cute!" when they tell me what they do. I'm going to say "Ah. Interesting. So what hospital do you work at?" or "Really? So have you been busy lately?"

Nor am I going to give advice on taking blood pressure and administering medication, or solving complex mathematical formulas, or where a stage should be positioned for a concert. I'm going to let them talk about what they do.

I'm not going to say "I've got a great idea for a train track! Say, if you build it, can we split the money?" and I'm not going to say "Yeah, I've always wanted to pull off a gala party. If had all the free time you did I could make it happen."

In short, I'm going to be respectful and treat their job as just that: a job. Even if it is part-time or they're still in school or in training or whatever.

Writers, and everybody in the artistic fields, are not taken seriously by society at large. In most communities, the arts are a hobby; something for retired people to do the last ten-twenty years of their life, house wives to do with their free time, and students to do before they face the harsh realities of the corporate world.

Anybody working adult that busies themselves with such pursuits and--gasp--wants to make a living off of them? Why, that person must be crazy--or rich to have all that time and energy.

I'm not saying that other jobs don't have their prejudices--not all doctors are rich and not all politicians are egotistical liars--but it just seems that the writers (and artists, musicians, etc.) have it harder when it comes to that little thing called respect.

So no, I don't blame my fellow scribes for being a bit cynical and maybe even a little snarky--much like I wouldn't blame a nurse for being cynical and snarky if they were always met with the comment "Oh, not smart enough to be a doctor?"

PeeDee
01-12-2007, 08:17 PM
We have a world predominantly filled with people who work a job, go home, watch TV, think about suicide, go to bed, get up, do it again, every day. Every single damn day. And then get depression and wonder why.

It can look a little strange when people do something contrary to this.

If you go to school to become a Doctor, all anyone's going to say is "Well, the money's good, huh!" And they're going to ask you "So, you know all the body parts now, eh?" And they're going to, eventually, call you cheerfully and say "Listen, my son's got this weird pain in his ankle, do you think it's anything major?"


You get a variation on this if you're in computers, Vetrinary medicine, Pet grooming (my wife gets it a lot) and yes, the arts. It's against the grain. SO people ask the couple of awkward question they can think of, make a joke or two, and then think about it not very much.

Yes, I'm generalizing. But it's still true enough.

maestrowork
01-12-2007, 08:56 PM
My question is: Why do we care? Do doctors worry about what non-doctors think? Do computer scientist care if others understand what they do every day? Do project managers want you to understand their Gantt charts (okay, okay, they do)? Do nurses get upset because you ask her what she does every day at the hospital?

Why do writers have such a need to be "understood" (or left alone)?

maestrowork
01-12-2007, 08:59 PM
it just seems that the writers (and artists, musicians, etc.) have it harder when it comes to that little thing called respect.


Actually, I am not sure if I agree. Yesterday I told a stranger I'm a writer, and I write novels. His eyes lit up and he said he really admired me for doing that, and he couldn't imagine ever writing a book. He was entirely sincere. I felt a lot of respect on his part, and that did make me feel good.

PeeDee
01-12-2007, 09:10 PM
My question is: Why do we care? Do doctors worry about what non-doctors think? Do computer scientist care if others understand what they do every day? Do project managers want you to understand their Gantt charts (okay, okay, they do)? Do nurses get upset because you ask her what she does every day at the hospital?

Why do writers have such a need to be "understood" (or left alone)?

I don't know. Because we're inherently slightly neurotic?

writing is a little less secure of a profession anyway. It's got more gray areas. If you're a doctor you go to school for This Long and you get a degree, and then you are a doctor, and you get a practice of some sort.

With a writer, you sometimes sell stuff (does THAT make you a writer?) and sometimes nothing sells (are you still a writer then?) and then you're making lots of moeny for only two hours of work a day (does that count? are you a writer? Are you REAL?).

Mostly, it's cause we're nuts.

I think it's interesting but personally, I don't much care if people think I'm a writer, or whther or not they think I'm a good writer.

Celia Cyanide
01-12-2007, 09:18 PM
I'm with Maestrowork. People who don't write aren't going to understand, but there is a lot we don't understand either. I don't think writers, or artist in general, have a harder time than anyone else. People in just about any profession probably encounter lots of people who don't respect what they do. But we don't know about that because we don't do it, and therefore, don't realize it.

Also, a lot of what you've written doesn't just apply to non-writers.


3. When you tell them you're sending it out, they remind you of the obstacles, the unfavorable statistics, as if you weren't more aware of them than they were.

To be fair, I think there are a lot of writers out there who are NOT aware of the obstacles, and assume everything they write is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Some writers know more than others, and not all writers know how hard it is to get published, or how much work it takes to produce quality writing.


5. You tell them you're writing a book and they ask (as if no one has ever asked you this question) "what's it about."

I really don't think they're asking because they think they're the first one to do so. They're asking because they care. If I don't want people ask me what my screenplay is about, I'm not going to tell them I wrote one. I'm a writer, and if I met another writer, I would ask them about what they were working on, because it would interest me to know.


6. They tell you they are an avid reader and a great candidate to read your book. So, you give them a copy, which they use as a coaster and never bothering reading a single page.

Writers do this to each other, too.


7. They tell you they've got a great idea about a book, and it's something so cliche (e.g. Alien conspiracy/attack).

Do you mean to tell me you've never come across a writer who was actually writing a story that was totally cliche???


9. They don't get that writing is a full-time job, or at least a second part- time job. You must treat it as if you need this job to pay your rent, and no, you can't not report to work tomorrow.

Except that this isn't true for everyone. Some writers haven't sold anything yet. They still deserve to be taken seriously, but it's understandable that a non-writer would look at someone who writes and does not get paid, and not "get" that it's a full time job.


12. They ask you to do them a favor (ride to the airport, moving furniture), because you have nothing better to do with your day off. You explain that you're writing that day, but they hear "I'm watching TV all day, I would help you but I simply don't want to, because I'm a selfish inconsiderate person."

That is indeed a rude assumption, but in all fairness, I have met people who say, "I'm writing," when they really mean, "I'm sitting on my ass all day."

Kate Thornton
01-12-2007, 09:23 PM
That is indeed a rude assumption, but in all fairness, I have met people who say, "I'm writing," when they really mean, "I'm sitting on my ass all day."

Well, I can do both!

Gotta admit, most people who find out that I write are really nice, ask intelligent questions, admire my work and buy stuff.

This does not include family.

MightyScribbler
01-12-2007, 09:33 PM
Actually, I am not sure if I agree. Yesterday I told a stranger I'm a writer, and I write novels. His eyes lit up and he said he really admired me for doing that, and he couldn't imagine ever writing a book. He was entirely sincere. I felt a lot of respect on his part, and that did make me feel good.

I get a few of these, and I am grateful. I run into a few people, rare but they're out there, who ask about the process, acknowledge that it must be hard to find the time and see it through, or ask about where the ideas come from and what not. But I guess I am being hard on the people who don't, I mean it is true, deep down I shouldn't really care what they think or say, and I guess it's more of an irritating observation than a real problem. It's true, most people don't get it because they've never done it, just like I may not understand what's involved in other professions.

My biggest problem is with the people who try to rip me away from my writing. I had one guy come up to my venue (yes, starbucks) get a cup of coffee, then another, he sat across from me and talked, I did not engage the conversation and kept trying to write, hoping he would take the hint. I finally explained, very nicely, what I was doing and why I was there. He didn't take that too well. Couple weeks later, he did the same thing. Another guy came up, closed my laptop while I was typing on it, and demanded I help him move, right then and there he wanted me to pack it up and help him. I explained the same to this guy, he did not take it well. Maybe I just surround myself with jerks, but there are many other examples very similar to these, and I guess people just think the writing schedule is flexible. I suppose it is, but it's like school, your paper may not be due for a couple weeks, and you don't have to be working on it right then and there, but if you start flexing a little, you quickly start flexing a lot. Self-imposed deadlines are the hardest to keep.

WildScribe
01-12-2007, 09:43 PM
When I told my mom, she said something along the lines of "about time". When I was a kid, I wrote a couple of children's stories, and got mostly encouraging comments, but with a dismissive tone of voice from my parently. "That's nice dear" and a pat on the head. As a very smart child, I understood the difference between real encouragement and ignoring me. I decided that my writing was awful, and (remember, I was only 10) threw it all away. My mom, apparently, remembers being encouraging and enthusiastic. Oh, well.

I also hate the "what are you writing" part, since a lot of the stuff in my novel is stuff I would rather not talk about. Just read it when I'm done!

maestrowork
01-12-2007, 09:55 PM
I also hate the "what are you writing" part, since a lot of the stuff in my novel is stuff I would rather not talk about. Just read it when I'm done!

Just tell them it's a novel, what genre it is, and a very brief premise. I really don't think we should be defensive about our work. How can we expect respect when we act like we're ashamed or secretive about our work? We're not necessarily working for the CIA...

ink wench
01-12-2007, 10:02 PM
Some of you know some very, uh, interesting people.

I'd much rather have people ask me about writing than my real job. That conversation usually goes like this:
THEM: So what do you do for a living?
ME: I'm a researcher
THEM: What do you research?
ME: Nothing really.
THEM: Then why are you called a researcher?
ME: It's my job title.
THEM: Well what do you actually do?
ME: It depends on the project. Sometimes I'm a statistician, sometimes I'm an interviewer, sometimes I'm an evaluator, sometimes I'm an editor, sometimes I'm a travel agent, sometimes I'm an accountant.... (list could go on forever)
THEM: But you don't actually do research, like try to answer a problem, publish the findings...?
ME: No.

My mom is really cute about the writing thing. She keeps telling me what a wonderful writer I am and how I ought try and publish something. Of course, she's never actually read any of my fiction. Ah well, at least she's supportive, which sounds like a rare trait.

MightyScribbler
01-12-2007, 10:03 PM
Do you mean to tell me you've never come across a writer who was actually writing a story that was totally cliche???



No, I've heard a few from writers. A cliche idea isn't a bad thing, per se, if it works it works I guess. My English/Writing teachers would tell us that all the ideas have been done, and we must take those ideas and do something different, that nobody has a totally unique idea, though they have unique ideas on how to treat the cliche. Don't know if I agree with the teachers, but that's what they told us.

But the alien conspiracy one is what I hear the most from nonwriters. I actually had a guy tell me I should write a book about two FBI Agents, one believes in Aliens, one does not. They go out and investigate Alien-related activity, as well as other supernatural occurances, and ultimately uncover a gov't conspiracy. I guess he never heard of the X-Files.

I've had the Lord of the Rings pitched to me, accept it wasn't a ring, it was a magical stick. I responded "oh, so it's like a magic wand or staff?" The response: "No, it's a stick."

The best is when I hear the offer to help me write it, or if I write it on my own using their idea, they'll be happy to allow me to have the idea, as long as I cut them in on the profits.

PeeDee
01-12-2007, 10:09 PM
You know generally, the writers I meet are no more interesting than the rest of the people. It's like they're all.......human beings. Actually, AW is the single rare occasion where I freely talk about writing without actually wishing I hadn't bothered.

MidnightMuse
01-12-2007, 10:18 PM
I always hated when people would ask what I did for a living, and I told them I was in Veterinary Medicine. First they think you're a millionaire. Next came their pet stories, followed by a long diatribe about how much THEIR vet charged them for something that should have - by all humane rights - have been free. Then they have a list of things they believe cure things better than any medicine could, ad nauseam.

So as awkward as it can be to tell someone you're writing - as writers we certainly don't have the strangle-hold on strangeness.

badducky
01-12-2007, 11:20 PM
my biggest pet peeve -- and the fastest way not to be my friend anymore -- is to invite me on some social event or gathering or lunch or whatnot, and then use this as an excuse to get advice on how to write, and how to be a writer and "gosh, I always wanted to know how they did that and won't you tell me how you did it..."

1) Blindsiding anyone like that is rude.

2) I actually do not have some secret source of knowledge, and I doubt anyone else does, either.

3) One book does not an expert make.

The casual talk about your job over lunch is one thing. The grating words "can I pick your brain" when I was only prepared for picking at my vegetables is just not cool.

I'm not at all against helping others achieve my minimal success. >>When the purposes are clear from the get go.<<

Anonymisty
01-13-2007, 12:01 AM
I work in a middle-school library, so I have a lot of people who respond to the news that I also write with something like "Of course you do - you're a librarian!"

*grin*

Anonymous Traveler
01-13-2007, 12:18 AM
I think we should be ready to promote our vocation or hobby rather than dismiss the great unwashed. If they assume something that is wrong, correct them, nicely. One day they may buy your book and tell their friends, or when they see you name in the Chapters window, "won't buy that he's stuck up." Maybe one of them is the next Hemingway and all it takes is your encouragement.

limitedtimeauthor
01-13-2007, 01:13 AM
You know, I can't stand it when I meet someone new, ask what they do, try to think of some question to ask them to either a. abolish my ignorance of it or b. show them that I care, and then... get the feeling that I've just asked something incredibly stupid.

I identify more with the people who are being criticized than with the writers who are criticizing. I mean, gosh, give 'em a break for actually attempting to show an interest. If you want people to avoid you like the plague, then don't go out where there might be other people. If you want everyone to read your mind and know the exact right thing to ask you, then wear a sign around your neck. If you want people to show you some respect then get your head out of [deleted for propriety's sake] and show them some respect.

Who are you, anyway, that people should show you some high level of respect? Especially if they've only just met you. Don't get me wrong: I truly understand that some people can be jerks, and some people get off on discouraging others, and some will just blow you off like you're nothing; but they do that to everyone. So what? They reap what they sow.

Sorry to be so hugely annoyed by this, but I get so sick of writers being all egotistical about stuff. I love to find a writer who writes so well I'm on cloud nine. But even then, it doesn't mean I think they're any more special than my Aunt Sally who crochets nice things for the furniture.

There. I've said what I had to say. I bitched. I'm through. For now.

And here's a smiley, because I was so rude and I feel I should make up for it somehow: :)

ltd.

Judg
01-13-2007, 01:23 AM
Writers, and everybody in the artistic fields, are not taken seriously by society at large. In most communities, the arts are a hobby; something for retired people to do the last ten-twenty years of their life, house wives to do with their free time, and students to do before they face the harsh realities of the corporate world.

...

I'm not saying that other jobs don't have their prejudices--not all doctors are rich and not all politicians are egotistical liars--but it just seems that the writers (and artists, musicians, etc.) have it harder when it comes to that little thing called respect.Oh my dear, if you want to experience a lack of respect, just TRY being a housewife. I was guilty too, until I actually did it and found it to be the hardest job I had ever had.

And I will never forget the time I ran into a former neighbour and saw the stunned look on her face when she found out I was teaching and at a cegep to boot. (A cegep is a school in Quebec intermediate between high school and university You are actually expected to have some expertise in your field to teach there.) She had obviously dismissed me as a mere housewife and to discover that I was educated and holding down a job superior to hers on the prestige meter was visibly hard on her.

So yes,I guess I do understand the sensitivity aspect of it. But at the same time, we should cut some slack for the people who are just ignorant. Jerks are another question.

Anonymous Traveler
01-13-2007, 01:47 AM
If you want everyone to read your mind and know the exact right thing to ask you, then wear a sign around your neck.

Or hand out resumes. If they are sufficiently verbose you can make your escape.