I went to the eye doctor today because I'm finally getting contacts, yay! I go to a lot of doctors when I come home. Like a health pit stop. And I was sitting in the chair, waiting for my eye doctor to come check my eyes, and I was looking at the walls for good reading material and low and behold, there's a whole poster of eye disorders. This is not just an eye doctor trend. Why is it that doctors like to freak their patients out by plastering all the things that can go wrong all over the walls? Scare tactics, I think.
My 11-year-old brother read The 4:05. I had to explain to him what "o-d-e-d" meant, but he said he liked it, even though they ended up "like in love and stuff." I ate lunch while he sat at the table and read the last twenty pages. Usually I don't like watching people read my stuff but seeing him so focused on it made me sorta proud.
Artists are generally very proud people. We're enlightened, you know? We have truth and wisdom and revelations on life to pass out, and boy are we misunderstood. Tortured artists, starving artists, underpaid, living in cardboard boxes artists. Suffering so that truth can reach the masses. Yes, we are pretty pompous sometimes. Usually, though, it's a subliminal thing. And if it manifests itself, it usually is an us-them complex of artist-normal people who have real jobs and friends and families that we're jealous of. I mean...
I don't have a lot of established pet peeves in life. One of them is when cars pull into the crosswalks at stop signs even if they can't go yet just so that you won't bother them by walking in front of them. Laaaa-ame. But even more than that, I hate writers who get pompous with other writers. Ok, there's obviously a hierarchy when it comes to writing. There are those who have been writing longer than you have and those who have been writing less. There are those who are better than you and those who are worse. And secretly, it's true, I think I'm better than most of my peers and I pander to those who I know are better than me. But at the same time, there's this sense of we're all in it together. Except for those people who like to step on the little new guy.
I was checking out the Wordplay forums the other day, and a very basic question was asked. So basic, even I sniggered at it a little. But some of the responses surprised me. Recently too, I've been looking for good resources on querying (if I'm ever going to cross off "pitch The 4:05 to Adam Brody" off my 101 list, I'd better do it right), and some of the attitude in posts and comments surprises me. There is a strata of elitists in the writer's community, and they just add bad blood all around. I think my main problem with elitists is not the derisive tone, they way they sniff at new writers who haven't mastered the craft yet, their cynicism and aloofness. I think it's the way that the make writing out to be more than just hard work. Because truly, there are two types of elitists. There are those who are elitists because they think they've put in the work and the younger generation thinks it won't need to, and there are the elitists who think they're better because they're "compelled" to write, their lives are over if they don't write, and if you don't feel that way then who are you to dare dream of yourself as a writer.
Writing is hard work. That's all. The more you work at it, the better you are. You'd *better* like it because you're going to be spending a lot of time doing it. And I hope you feel like either you or other people are becoming better people because of your writing (nobody gets into writing for the money). But all this stuff about being "thrown into the darkest depression if I don't write"? Get off your high horse. Don't make the poor excite new kids feel bad because they don't have a disciplined writing habit yet. These people try to make writing something more magical and mystical than it really is. And the really bad thing? They use their *emotions* about writing to turn people away. They say that if you *don't* feel overjoyed whenever you sit down to write or if you don't feel like writing is as important as breathing, then you aren't meant to be a writer.
Some of the best quotes about writing by some of the most talented authors is about how hard they find it to write - sometimes down right unenjoyable.
Writing is a craft. It takes time and it takes work, and in that aspect, I can almost respect the people who are experience elitists. Sometimes I think they disregard people too quickly just because they're new to the game, but I can agree with them that I will get better the more I write, the more work I put into it, the more I practice. But these people who make writing an obsession? They just need to get a life. These people take it to seriously. Hitchcock was famous for reminding his cast and crew, when things go a little tense, "it's only a movie."
One of my favourite quotes about writing is from Zach Helm, who wrote Stranger than Fiction, basically slamming "pompous artists" because they will sacrifice life too much for art. If you really feel that way, fine. But don't go around telling other writers that they aren't really artists because they aren't obsessed like you. All writing is is sitting down and working. Anyone can do it. I don't know why you would if you didn't love it, but anyone can.
My allergies are causing me much pain. Please pass the Bendryl. I want to pass out.
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London
"People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it." - Harlan Ellison