The hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter has been trending on Twitter the past few days, in a big way.
If you haven't heard about it, go google right now! It's basically a hashtag for writers to express their frustrations as to how the craft is misunderstood and generally disrespected by the majority of the public. So many writers - both aspiring and established - have embraced the hashtag as a means of venting their frustrations. To give you a taste of some of the tweets, have a look at this article on: Thought Catalog. Seems the most common refrain goes along the lines of ignorant dismissal: 'So what's your real job then?' (this line by Margaret Laurence always ricochets in my mind to that one: 'When I say 'work', I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.' Amen.) Many of the tweets also show the assumption that writing is a hobby and one that everyone can do apparently, given enough time. Pah!
Oh I can agree with so many of them. And this got to thinking what are the ten things I hate to have said to me in relation to writing... Hmmm:
1. "Ah, creative writing - you mean calligraphy." (Complete cluelessness. This actually was said to me, on a few occasions!)
2. "Yes, but when are you going to get a real job?" (Peevish cynics/jealous onlookers suffering from a big lack of vision/imagination/dreams of their own)
3. "Don't you have to be older to be a writer? You know, have more life experience."
(Ageist and completely incorrect as to who writers are and what they do - because no, we are not all writing memoirs.)
4. "Yes, but apart from that, what do you do?" (Haughty undermining)
5. "You have to be really lucky to get a book published these days - like winning the lotto!" (Er no, snide dream disser, you don't need luck when you've got talent and drive.)
6. "Then again you could be lucky like -insert name of popular prolific chick lit author here"- (Well I hope NOT! since I don't want to sell-out my literary soul! Hard to understand every woman is not a chick-lit writer - or reader - for that matter!)
7. "Maybe you could write my life story, be a bestseller!" (Narcissists' input - happens more than you'd think...)
8. "Oh I've always wanted to write a novel, everyone has one in them."
(Belittling. Er, no. Sure, everyone has a story or stories in them, but not everyone has the ability to transmute these narratives to imaginative written expressions.)
9. "Oh... so you're a journalist!" (Inability to comprehend the actual variety of genres in writing)
10. "Did that really happen to you?" (Inability to understand ah, the premise of 'fiction')
But I have to say, despite all of these things, there is one absolute worst thing than these. When I mention I write or want to be a writer, this response: _____________ .
Big bad blank. Nothing, nada, nope, didn't hear that, don't want to hear that, what?!?! Not what they have said, but what they have not said. A complete ignoring. Try it. As Carolyn See put it in her excellent guide to writing - 'Making a Literary Life', if you want to stop a conversation dead in its tracks, mention the fact that you write, or aspire to being a writer. Whoa!
What about you fellow writers? What are your ten things? Writing is a misunderstood craft, especially when it's committed to as an active career. #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter shows just how much. Darn it. But we accept the mantle valiantly. To write is to battle silence, indifference, ignorance, dismissal, misunderstanding, all of it. So, on we go, regardless of what people think of our profession/obsession/occupation.
But anyway, not to end on a cranky note. Here's ten things we writers would like to hear more:
Ten Things To DEFINITELY Say To A Writer:
1. How is the writing going? (genuine interest, acknowledgement)
2. What an exciting profession! (admiration, respect)
3. You're a very talented writer/I love your work. (recognition)
4. What a joy to create for a living! (support)
5. I really enjoyed your work (Plus that is to say I did actually read it)
6. I love reading books. (support of your industry)
7. What do you write? (interest)
8. What writers do you admire? (interest, upped)
9. I'd love to read your novel/script/poetry/articles. (support and encouragement)
10. Writing is hard work! (Yes, thank you!)
Observer: Hashtag Has Famous Writers Venting And Bonding on Twitter
Huffington Post: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter is Funny, But Also Good Etiquette