Oh, So You Think You Should Write, Eh?

Someone actually told me they were planning to write a book, but they hated reading. It'd be a book for those who hated to read, which in their opinion, was everyone. 

For those of you who are new to my life, I've been writing in secret for too many years, but since I announced to the world that I have a writing addiction, and I'm ready to find an agent to support it, I get strange comments like that.

To me, writing is like hockey. You can't sign up to play 42 games this year if you hate the game. It'll show if you aren't passionate about it, and you'll give up as soon as someone sends you into the boards-- and they will, hard, often. It hurts, and you have to get back up and do it all again tomorrow, sometimes friends help you up, but usually, you're alone.

I firmly believe you have to read to write. You have to read EVERYTHING, and you have to make writing an everyday habit, not a one time thing. Practice your craft, it takes time. That first book might be good, but the second will be better, the third, wow... slowly, you'll get to where you need to be. No one is born a writer. (That would be nice.)


Unfortunately, this conversation didn't end there. To spice up my disgust, this happy person said, "I'm not worried about being published, I kinda know a guy who got published. I'll write him and ask for him to endorse it." 
I kinda know a guy? Endorse it? Do people do that?

I work for my success, and I don't rely on the success of others. I write diligently. I never miss a day. Not one. It means, I write in the car, at the dentist office, that I sacrifice TV time, sleep. I gave up a lot for my novels. I study the craft. I research everything, three times.  No one can say that I got lucky because I knew a guy. I know lots of guys. geesh.
I might never be published. But damn it, I earned it anyway. And, I'm proud of that.

Do you get these types of comments? Should I encourage someone like this? It's my nature to want everyone to succeed, support the team-- but writing is hard, and they clearly had no idea how hard. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. Honestly, no amount of money will justify the time and work I've put into my writing addiction.

The conversation got worse, when it turned to exactly that-- making money off novels. (I mean, they planned to make a fortune selling books to people who hate reading... Even someone with no marketing experience knows that won't fly, don't they?) 

This is how the conversation ended;
"A book for people who don't read. Who the hell is gonna buy it?" At this point, I was annoyed.

Wanna know the answer? The big secret?

With a wink, they said, "Audio book."

Next time, I'll nod and smile, and avoid asking for details. I have fun writing, but it's still a business I take serious, and comments like that, insult me. How do you handle people who think writing is just that easy?

20 comments:

Loralie Hall said...

I used to get really irked over situations like this. I still do sometimes, but I've learned the best response -- if they don't listen when you try and start to explain -- is to nod and agree with them.

It's not an argument you can win, and honestly, even if they do sit down and write, they're not going to sound any wiser to anyone else in the industry than they do to you. Just my opinion ^_^

Will Burke said...

It reminds me of someone who will tell you all about parenting because their sister has a kid. Parents will share stories, but rarely advice. We don't have the energy to teach others.

E.J. Wesley said...

Well stated, Tanya. I really just try to avoid talking about writing with anyone who doesn't write. It's hard and not fair (I listen to them talk about work all the time, right?), but it's the only way for me to not get frustrated.

I do think my friends are finally catching on that it's not cool to ask me every time they see me, "so when are you going to publish something?" God, if I only had that much control! :0)

EJ

Richard said...

I can't tell you how many times a new person has joined my writing group, thinking there's a secret to it, then find out what it's really like, and disappear after two or three classes. Then there's the woman that joined my group a few years ago, just wanting to write something about her children's father, who died when they were very young, so they would know something about him, and persevered even though it was hard, and has now written a terrific memoir, one I feel sure will get published. (She's actually writing the last couple of chapters now.) Until a person gets into the nitty-gritty of writing, they have no idea. But that's part of the the beauty of it: good writers make it look easy.

Diana said...

People are stupid. lol. These stupid people are also the ones who make it harder for us to get an agent/publisher because they are writing crappy queries, boasting about the fame and fortune the agent will get if they take them on. So then the agent we want is on guard and grumpy because they've had to deal with stupid all day.
writing isn't easy and we have to most definately read read read. :)

vbtremper said...

Here, here. Well said.

Gina said...

Don't worry, I think this person will be eating crow shortly enough.

Even though I've been writing and reading all my life, I didn't seriously start to pursue it until around the time Twilight was taking over the world. I read Stephenie Meyer's "road to publication" story and thought hey, that doesn't sound so bad. I didn't realize she was the exception and not the rule, though I'm fully schooled now! Some people just think they're meant to be the exception though. The rest of us know better!

The Happy Whisk said...

Well, at least you got a good blog post from it.

Summer Ross said...

I don't handle them- LOL Right off the bat- I would have told the person to do what he thought he would enjoy and left it at that. Great post!

Marieke said...

Hey fellow Crusader! Nice to meet you! :)

Also, I probably would've run away screaming. Just saying. (Okay, no, I wouldn't have, but I would have wanted to.)

Megan K. Bickel said...

Wow. I would have been totally annoyed too. It is just as bad for picture book writers. They assume low word count equals easy writing! There is a quote out there (not sure who said it - Mem Fox maybe?) that I use..."Writing a picture book is like writing 'War and Peace' in Haiku."

Tanya Reimer said...

Nice to read I'm not alone!

The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Tanya: Yeppers. I always post the Wonder Woman answers the next day sometime, usually in the evening or so, at the end of comments. Thanks for the drop-in.

Cleveland said...

What's particularly depressing about this, I think, is hardly anyone just assumes that musicians can pick up a guitar and get famous with little work. Or actors. Or filmmakers. Or engineers. Etc.

Why writers?

Tanya Reimer said...

Exactly.

Michael Offutt said...

Unfortunately, writing is that easy for some people and that's just the truth. Bristol Palin has got a book contract and Snooki is a best-selling author. Paris Hilton could get millions for a book, etc. Knowing the way life is, your friend will probably be rich with the book that is meant for non-readers.

Liz said...

Just smile and nod. Then walk away. They'll learn, eventually. Wouldn't it be nice if you got to be there when they figured it out, though?

Michael Offutt said...

"Yup, that's how I feel at times. Oh, well, I know I worked for it, and I can be proud of that, right?"

I definitely think that you should feel proud, yes. We all should.

Misha said...

Ugh...

Wish them luck and send them on their merry way
to hell.

Most people who talk like that have no clue and will walk into it blindly.

I just pull up a chair and watch...

Wait. Do I come over as vindictive? ;-P

Trisha said...

LOL, I guess I could get irritated by people like that, but I'm more inclined to laugh at them and say, GOOD LUCK!