I spent some time this morning reading Chuck Wendig’s post on NaNoWriMo, and wondering about meanies. Not Chuck Wendig–that guy is cool as aloe vera–but the general meanness of a world that couldn’t care less if you’re a writer.
See, as Wendig points out (and I reluctantly agree), the world doesn’t give a tinker’s fart if you’re writing the Great American Novel. Or Great British Novel, or German, or…whatever. Nobody cares. Your friends and family might give a little nod, a helpful smile, maybe ask a tentative question here and there, but seriously, nobody cares if you’re a writer.
Except one subset of humanity: Other. Writers.
Writing is hard. I mean, well…no, not really. Being a janitor is hard, being a nurse is hard, being a soldier is hard. Let’s put this in perspective. Writing is fucking easy.
But, you know—it’s hard too. It’s hard to properly explain to other people that you can’t watch Thor 2 because you’re 5,000 words behind your goal, and your deadline is a month away. Even if you have a really understanding significant other who lets you slide on picking up leaves because you have to write a blog post right this minute, there are only a small group of people who will ever truly understand what you’re talking about…
I’m not here to disparage friends and family, as none of us would be here without them (literally, in some cases), but this post isn’t really about them. It’s about being a writer and cutting other writers a fucking break. Because we’re in this together, my friends. The shit is deep, and we need a hand wading through. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not fall in.
Hugh Howey wrote some compelling stuff on this , which I’d recommend reading, as it’s Howey and you should read everything he writes anyway. The point of which, is this: writer’s can be a little, um…catty. We’re supportive, but we’re bitchy. We’ll give you a thumbs up on that publishing contract, then bury pins in your Voodoo Doll. We can’t help it, we’re artists.
And artists aren’t immune from jealousy.
It doesn’t help when there’s a lot to get jealous about. When I’m looking at a negative review and notice my colleague is swimming in five stars, I’ll admit to some ol’ fashioned fury (is that ol’ fashioned? Probably old-and-new-which-means-it’s-not-a-fashion). But that stuff ain’t productive, folks. It’s not helping me catch up on my word count; it’s not getting me any closer to watching Thor 2.
Howey has it right, writer’s aren’t in a competition. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander (yeah, I know that doesn’t really work. Shut up. It sounds cool). Writers exist in a bubble of our own creation. A lonely, whiskey-soaked bubble. Our friends and family will only get us so far—we owe it to each other to get the rest of the way.
Wendig said we need to toughen the hell up. And he’s right, cause the Way of the Writer is fraught with rejection, shitty pay and confused stares when people ask what you do for a living. But I’ll take it a step further and say we need to compassion the hell up. Help each other out, leave a nice review, buy a book for a friend’s birthday…
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You know. Simple things.
“Thumbs up!” Creative Commons via krissen
“A perfect morning” Creative Commons via purolipan
“Voodoo Doll Dotees” Creative Commons via elasticcamel