Posted in Professor, Writer

There’s Something that Dislikes an Aspiring Writer

They’ll always look at you like you’re crazy.

You know that look your family gives each other when your Uncle so-and-so is ranting about conspiracy theories? Or that subject change we do when someone starts arrogantly claiming they know everything on a topic, and they look like they’re about to lecture on it?

New writers get those all the time.

There’s something about trying to write that brings out the skeptics- or even the judges.

Mention you’re working on something:

Watch for barely suppressed eye rolls.

The population that actually wants to hear about your ideas and your progress is like this big (I’m pinching my fingers really close together). Hold those supporters, those encouragers, close to your heart because bringing up your writing labors with just anyone often results in forced smiles and a subject change.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to work in English academia, where we’re expected to pursue writing (there’s still a lot of judgment for genre fiction, though- insert eye roll here).

I was also lucky enough to see that other writers get the same empty, barely-listening, can’t-wait-to-change-the-subject nods from friends and family. I’ve spent some years working in Writing Centers at a few schools. Many of my clients were older, returning students who had had time to develop their ideas. This was a familiar exchange:

Student (looking around to make sure no one can hear them): You know, Ms. T., I was thinking about writing a book one day.  

Me: Really? What about? Have you started it?

Student has a surprised pause, then launches into a detailed description of the storyline. Every character is developed. They know the beginning, middle, and end. They’ve written four chapters.

I would listen, and ask about their progress. There rarely was any after that initial talk.

It’s kind of hard to write when you get no support, no encouragement. From the way they poured out their ideas, like a confessional, I’m bound to think they’ve never had anyone to talk to about their writing, let alone encourage them in it.

So, I learned. There’s something in this world that dislikes an aspiring writer.

It has nothing to do with individual talent. How could it? No one has read the writer’s work, yet.

Are aspiring writers considered arrogant, maybe? Do we hold writing on a pedestal, and only expect shining geniuses to produce anything good? “How dare regular people think they can do it”?

I’m not sure why aspiring writers are shrugged off or looked down on, but I am sure it happens.

I mean this to be a bit hopeful. Now that we know it happens to everyone, we can lighten our burden of insecurities. It’s not because we’re bad writers that we’re doubted.

We’ll be doubted until we are no longer “aspiring” writers. Just keep going, and you’ll end up proving everyone wrong by default.

They should have believed in you in the first place. They had no reason not to.

 

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