The other day, I was out with normal people (i.e., non-writers) from work, one of whom had no idea I am writing a novel. I have difficulty talking about my writing journey with people who I don’t know that well.
I used to think my reluctance was irrational. Now I see it as totally justifiable.
When one of the normal people learned that I write (thanks to a well-meaning friend who clearly doesn’t understand my
irrational justifiable terror), she was all over me with questions.
What do you write?
What does your family think?
And the horrible, terrible, no good very bad (thank you Judith Viorst) question:
What books have you published?
Stomach to water? Check. Heart palpitations? Check. Shaky hands? Double check.
I told her I am still working on that minor detail. My well-meaning friend informed Ms. Nosypants that I have a short story published.
“Oh, like in The New Yorker?”
Okay, now that’s just over the top. Is this chick serious?
She smiled in a sweet way that only her mother could love and said, “So, you aren’t, like, a real writer. It’s, like, a hobby or something. Right?”
Where’s my soapbox? I have something to say.
Writers write. Writing is what makes a writer, bottom line. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a news article, a short story, a blog post, the next great Harry Potter, or a letter to Santa. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. If you care about the quality of your words, sentences, message, intention — then you are a real writer, dammit.
The writing process is so intricate and convoluted and magical, normal people can’t possibly understand what goes into it, or for that matter, what comes out of it.
Writers make up what could be termed a secret society, a league of story brewers who have a hard time discerning the difference between fantasy and reality.
Writers are a little on the insane side, but we make up for it in entertainment. We talk about our people and our worlds with sincerity and care, yet with a need to constantly put them through hell. We kill off characters as quickly as we bring them to life — and we tend to be quite creative in our methods. We’re excellent at researching normal people for our projects. Normal people make damn cool writing experiments.
Whether a writer does this shit for a living or for a hobby isn’t what normal people ought to be concerned about.
Normal people ought to wonder how closely a writer is watching them and if notes are involved.