Tuesday, July 27, 2010

But We're So Much Better Than Everyone

A few weeks ago I was getting my hair done and my hair stylist, in an effort to strike up some conversation, asked what was new with me.  Well, this was just a day or so after I finished the rewrite of Aurumenas, so that was top on my mind.  I informed her of my latest accomplishment and I got...the look.  You know the one.  The look where the one giving it thinks we've accomplished nothing greater than finishing a scrapbooking project, but they're sure we think we've just won the lottery and are bound to become the next big thing.

Yeah.  It was irritating and I immediately wished I'd kept my mouth shut.

The look was quickly followed by the high pitched voice one usually reserves for children.  "Oh yeah?  What is it about?"

I knew and she knew she didn't really want to know, so it was painful giving her my one sentence pitch.  Her eyes immediately glossed over when she figured out I'd written a sci-fi, and YA at that.

That's when I did what I wished I'd done from the beginning and brought the conversation to an end by saying nothing.  After a few nods of my head and "uh-huhs" she soon realized I was done talking.

This kind of stuff happens a lot.  I've heard some version of this tale from quite a few other authors over the years.  People just don't understand us.  They can't grasp the scope of our vision or the strenuous labor we pour into each and every sentence.  We are arteests and they are simply ignorant, unworthy of our time.  Only those who truly understand us should ever be allowed to have access to the fruit of our minds poured out on paper, otherwise they will taint the beauty and elegance of books with their tacky, ignorant ways.



That's silly.  We may be artists, creating something out of our imagination, but unless we intend on only writing for our own enjoyment, we're also businessmen.  The moment you put it in your head to seek representation or publication, you've turned an artistic hobby into a business.  It's too late for you to start complaining about how people might find out about your (hopefully) soon to be published book, or who might read it. 

If I'm going to bother to write a book for others to read, I want as many people to have access to it as possible.  Giving them that access is not tacky.  We as writers should want everyone to read, no matter who they are or where they're from.  

I've been a part of a lot of groups throughout my life, and every group always (without fail) thinks they're better than every other group.  They think they are more compassionate, understand the world better, are more intelligent, etc.   

But notice I said "group."  That's the funny thing about groups because if you were to take people individually, they probably wouldn't necessarily believe those things about themselves.  One or two may, but for the most part, people understand that they do not know the most or they are not the most skilled at something.  However, when you put the group together and pit it against another group, the people feed off of each other and the group almost becomes a sentient being and wholly other.

Look at politics, for example.  If you were to put a democrat and republican together, they would most likely be able to carry on a civil conversation.  They would give their points during their turns and respectfully listen to the other when their turn was done.  You put a group of democrats against a group of republicans and conversation is impossible.

The same is true for any group (that one just happens to be the most visual in today's day and age).  Writers sometimes have the habit of looking down on non-writers.  Not individually, but when the group gets together.  I've been a member of a lot of writing communities and it happens in every one.  And it's easy to see why.  We writers are often looked down upon by people who don't write, because everyone thinks they can do it.  When we share our stories with each other what inevitably happens is we try to bring ourselves up, convince ourselves we are accomplishing something, by looking down on those who looked down on us. 

But here's the truth:  you are accomplishing something.  When you let the laundry or dishes pile up or the dust settle into thick mounds on your furniture, it's not because you're being lazy in front of the computer.  It's because you're working.  Don't doubt that.  But don't start thinking that you're work is too good for some people, either.  If it's really good and worth reading, then everyone should have access to it.

~Emily White

  For another great post on this topic, go to Hairnets and Hopes.


  1. very well said miss emily! :)

    and the look! so funny!
    love the examples! (this was fun, let's team up again sometime!) :)

  2. Don't give her a free copy when your book comes out! She's not interested and not your demographic.

  3. This was wonderful. Group dynamic's can be nutty and then you turn into that regular individual and everything changes! Both you and aspiring x had some wonderful posts today! I loved it!!! Very great post!

    PS MY BLOG FEST IS UP!!! Join in!!

  4. Thanks, Vic! We must definitely team up again! I had so much fun doing this! :D

    DL--Very scary indeed. Being part of a group is definitely a positive experience for a lot of people, but you're absolutely right about it numbing the conscience. Thanks!

    Thanks, Jai!

    Karen--Oh now you've gotten me all daydreaming about being published! :D

  5. That's why I don't tell anyone after I finish a ms (as in people I see every day). I hate being face-to-face with someone as I tell them about my book.

  6. I find that whenever someone aspires to create art - whatever type of art, it seems to be without boundaries - other people, nonartists if you want to call them that, always seem to not take it seriously. Very frustrating! But I've just learned to refrain from talking about it. I'd rather not get into it. Like politics, funny enough. :) Great post!

  7. I hate that look. I also hate it when my mother asks what I 'really' want to do with my life...

  8. I know that look! I like to give those folks the neverending, super-detailed pitch. haha.

    And I need to hear the bit about the dishes piling up because I am working. Is it really real work? Sigh. My day job is Mommy, so the dishes are my job, too. I wish it weren't so. But. Dishes are done. Writing is about to begin;)

  9. I think you really hit the proverbial nail on the head with this post. I can say that I've received "the look" recently from those with whom I thought there was closeness - in other words, family. Everyone thinks they could be a writer. Many of us think that too, even if we are not yet published.

    It stems, IMHO, from the fact that no one outside the writing circle knows the level of work it takes. I had no idea before I started just how much effort would be involved. My respect has grown immeasurably for published authors, but at the same time, we can't afford to look down our noses on the uninitiated. They are simply ignorant of the process - just as all of us were at one point.


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