Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and really, that’s no excuse), you will have seen posts on either Facebook or Twitter this week about the trending topic #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. I confess, some of them were hysterically funny, but mostly, what struck me, was how accurate they were. Sitting down for coffee with a few authors we started to compare notes on which ones were our favourites. After all, we’d all had vastly differing author journeys and so it would follow that we’d heard totally different things. As it turned out, we had all heard essentially the same things, only the wording differed *grin*
So what was it about this particular hashtag that resonated with so many writers? I think it was the fact that we were able to see that it didn’t matter whether we were published or still writing, a multi-millionaire or self-published dreamer, we all had common ground! Here are some of my favourites from Twitter…
“Writing is so easy. Your life must be like a vacation all the time!” @Samantha_Eaton3
“You’re a writer? But I’ve never heard of you…” @cristela9
“I always thought I’d write a book after I retire, once I have some time to kill.” @i_Author
“I heard that writing books is really just a formula. And there’s software that does it all for you.” @janmoran
“Why should you get paid? You like writing. I don’t get paid for my hobbies.” @LIanaBrooks
“I wish I could sit at home all day, writing, but I have a real job” @Author_Devika
“Are you still doing that little writing thing?” @gabesingin
“Writing YA is easy, right? I think I should try it. I need some money.” @ashposton
“Self-published, so you’re not really published then?” @chadh1234
I could totally have included almost all of them, but these (or variations of them) seemed to be very popular and when we’d finished giggling and commiserating – round about our third glass of wine – we started to wonder what it was about being a writer that made people think it was ok to say these things to us. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get feedback from people and I really enjoy talking to readers or potential readers, but why do people think that being a writer is just a hobby? What is it that makes people discount so blithely the hours of time we’ve spent working at our craft? For craft it IS!
Yes, it’s certainly true that everyone “can write”, but equally true is the fact that while everyone can string words together and possibly even in a pleasing way, not everyone has what it takes to create worlds, characters and stories that reach people, that touch the heart, move the mind and build fandoms. Not everyone has the discipline required to make the time to write – and believe me, if you consider how many authors hold down full-time jobs, raise families and STILL manage to complete book after book, it really does come down to making time to write!
In the end we agreed that like most creative endeavours, writing is seen as somehow “less”. Less than working in an office certainly. Artists, photographers, writers, we all seem to get asked the same kinds of questions and this #TenThings hashtag certainly shed a lot of light on that.
Ultimately, seeing that we’re not alone in our experiences was not only entertaining, but also strangely cathartic. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out, self-published, have a publishing deal or fortunate enough to do this full-time… we are ALL working hard at something we love, something we’re passionate about.
So by all means, say what you want. Ask the silly questions. Put down the dream I’m pursuing. You may well end up in my next book or fade into obscurity.
Either way, I’m living my passion and your approval isn’t needed.
Until next time…