By Keith N Fisher
When you greet another writer, what do you say? When a person says they’re a potter how do you respond? What about sculpting, or writing music? When your friend tells you he quit his job to have more time to develop a computer program, how do you answer?
On the other side, Are you impressed when you’re daughter introduces her boyfriend and says he’s a doctor? Do lawyers have your respect? What are your feelings about physicists and stockbrokers?
I’m reminded of these questions after I tell people I’m a writer and hear the initial response. Often, it’s, "Oh . . . what have you written?" They expect to hear about all the books, from which, I’m collecting royalties. What they really want to know is how can you waist your time doing something that doesn’t pay the bills? Why didn’t you grow up and go to work, like the rest of us?
A writer’s first response is to defend their choice. We list all the books we’ve written and how close they are to being published. We seek acceptance from a closed minded, judgmental, person.
Recently, I’ve noticed a different response when I mention that I’m currently working on my cookbook. For some reason they approve. I leave out the part about my activities of trying to sell my fiction. I could list all the books I’ve written and where each one is in the process, but they don’t care.
I got a response the other day that surprised me. He asked if I’m still writing. I said that yes I am and I’m working on my cookbook. He asked how I plan to market it. I stuttered and joked about letting the publisher take care of that.
The truth is he was being critical. Of course I plan to market it, but I’m chin deep in getting it written. Let me do that well, then I’ll sell it. Yes, I know, times have changed and every writer should continually sell their brand, but I have problems with the concept of using every sales scheme you can think of to sell a poorly written book.
I’ve listened to writers preach about doing that very thing, but perhaps that’s the subject of another blog post. Let me just say, I fumbled my response. Then I read an article in Writer’s Digest about those who would criticize the choice. According to the article, one of the main responses is, you’ll never make a living as a writer. Do you know how many people have tried and failed?
I like the suggested reply, Most of the classical musicians had patrons. Would you like to support my efforts? I think every writer who ever lived, doubted his/her choices. I’ve heard successful authors express fear and frustration. It doesn’t help to hear negatives from those you care about.
How did our society become so slanted, that we pay sports players million’s of dollars yet creative artisans get a pittance if they get paid at all? Heartless CEO’s and hatchet men make fortunes cutting the life’s blood of those who do all the work in their company.
I love the concept of the future as expressed in Star Trek. They eliminated greed from their society and everyone is free to pursue a career they love. Be it poet, painter, or Indian chief.
According to the article I mentioned, there are many reasons some people rain on your writing parade. One is they wish they could write but they don’t have the guts to try. It’s hard to be a writer, especially, an unpublished one. To borrow a phrase from the seventies, Just keep on, keeping on. Oh, and the proper response, is how is your writing going? Then, let them tell you.
Good luck with your writing—see you next week.