As writers, are we too quick to make the assumption that people who are non-writers simply don’t “get us”; that somehow they have absolutely no concept of what a writer’s life is about? We blog about it, maybe even whine about it, acting like the elite group we believe we’re a part of—-the poor misunderstood writer. I’m sometimes moved to wonder, does this line of thinking make us writing snobs?
Have you, dear writer, ever pondered the question: Do non-writers see this as snobbish behaviour on our part? Do non-writers look at us and wonder if we think we’re somehow better?–And do we? Be honest. Are we secretly a bit smug over the fact that were are writers/authors?
As writers, nothing pleases us more than to have another writer to talk to about our craft. That’s only natural. I’ve experienced this myself with my “gab sessions” with a few local author friends. When we get together, we always know the purpose for our meetings. We talk about our current Work in Progress (WIP), we discuss the various publishers we’ve submitted to, and what’s happening in the publishing industry, and then we whine. Yes, we sometimes commiserate, lament, grumble, and then vow to keep on going. And while all this is happening, it’s as if the rest of the world does not exist because no one understands what we writers go through except another writer. Right?
But perhaps we writers are simply kidding ourselves. Perhaps this thinking is only true on one level—the writing level, that is. Perhaps we don’t give non-writers enough credit. Perhaps they do understand part of our plight as writers, perhaps more than even they realise.
So let’s look at a few of the myths we writers tell ourselves about non-writers.
*Non-writers do not understand rejection:
Come on—-Who are we trying to kid? If you live in the world, interact with people on a regular basis and have never experience rejection than YOU’RE quite possibly in an elite group yourself. To be human is to experience rejection at one time or another, and in one form or another. It started out on the playground when we were in elementary. Maybe someone didn’t like us or didn’t want to play with us. BUT…but.. a writing rejection is different, we writers might argue. Someone didn’t like the story I put my heart and soul into. It’s so, so personal. Well, what’s more personal than, Get away from me I don’t like you and I don’t want to play with you? How’s that for personal? And just think, it’s said to a kid who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word rejection, let alone can figure out the reason for the rejection. Rejection is all around us, in one form or another. It is not specific only to writers. We writers need to face up to it.
*Non-writers do not understand the long wait times we writers must endure:
Really? Do we really believe that non-writers have never had to wait an excruciating long time for anything? Wow! Aren’t they special? Life is also about waiting. We wait for appointments, wait in line, we wait for a lucky break, we wait in traffic, we wait for months to hear the results of some test, we wait for our ship to come in, we wait, and wait and then wait some more…I could go on. Everyone must wait unless you have a magical lamp or a genie to grant you your every command. If you do happen to have one of those, please send me a private message, would ya? I’d be interested in hearing all about it.
*But…. we writers have a special talent:
Hello, I see many talented people around me every day. Perhaps they don’t exhibit their talent through words, but the written word is not the only way to exhibit our talents. I have friends who are musicians, crafters, artists, scrap-bookers, card-makers, gardeners, cooks, who have just as much talent, or even more, than I. My talent is no more *special* than the next person’s; my talent just happens to be writing. Being a writer is not the epitome of talent in this world. It’s just one form.
*Non-writers do not have to constantly provide the self-motivation/self discipline to get things done.
Well, that’s just silly. We all need to be our own cheering section from time to time. If we didn’t exhibit some kind of self-motivation we’d spend our days doing absolutely nothing. We’d be zombies, mindless creatures going through the motions. Maybe we’d sit and stare out the window all day. Sure it takes motivation and discipline to be a writer, but that is true for any job we undertake, especially when it is something we have to do all on our own with help from no one. Nobody can do the studying for that English exam that’s coming up but you, and I don’t know anyone who’s going to arrive at my house with a mop and broom just to help me with my housework. What will make you finish that new scarf you’re working on, or get that Christmas baking done, if you possess no motivation or self-discipline. And if you want to change jobs because you’re under-appreciated and over-worked? You got it! Motivation and discipline, is what keeps us sending out resumes in search of that perfect job.
*Non-writers do not really care about what we are writing:
I have several people in my life, non-writers that they are, who ask me what I’m working on. Sometimes, if they see something they think I might be interested in they bring it to my attention, because you just never know what might end up as fiction one day. When a writer is coming to the area to speak or sign books, some of my friends will mention it. While a non-writer might not be interested in the research I’m doing, or even how many times I’ve revised a story, they are usually anxious to hear what’s new on the publishing horizon for me. “Are you writing another book?” I get asked that one a lot. Non-writers do care. Why wouldn’t they? We are all human, all with the ability to empathize with one another, to hope for one another, and to share in our joys and triumphant.
As a writer, I’m attempting to stop thinking in terms that separates the non-writers from the writers in my life. Instead, I am willing to think in terms of what connects us together as people, what parts of our lives that we universally share. We have far more similarities than we do differences. I’m attempting to stop thinking like a writing snob and start thinking like an ordinary person who just happens to write. This does not mean that I will stop enjoying my “gab-sessions” with my writer friends, or the wonderful connections I’ve made with writers in the blogging community. It will simply make me more mindful of all the areas that my non-writing friends can relate.
Do you agree that we writers can sometimes exhibit a bit of an attitude when it comes to the non-writing population because we believe ourselves to be misunderstood by them? If you consider yourself a non-writer have you ever felt a bit inferior while in the company of a writer?