May 12, 2012 at 1:44 am (writing) (, , , , )

I’m hoping someday I won’t have to tell people that I write. It would be wonderful if they would just know, at the mere mention of my name. I know that’s a lot to hope for, but I really hate telling people I write. Even if you can confirm that, yes, I have been published, many folks will still look at you as if you had just told them that you eat babies.

“What did you write? Have I heard of it? Can I buy it in *fill-in-the-name-of-some-chain-bookstore-here*?”

If you can’t say yes to these questions, you then get that look that suggests that not only do you eat babies, but you just asked them to eat babies with you.

It’s hilarious, in a sad and pathetic sort of way. If I tell people I do artwork, I get a completely different response.

“Wow! You’re an artist? Can I see some of your work?”

No cold stares like I’m some sort of leper. No demands if any of my work is hanging in the Louvre, or the Met, or even the local art gallery. They are interested, in a positive way. When I show them my work, despite the fact that I’m not a particularly good artist, I usually get an equally positive response, unless the person is a professional artist. Rarely will I get any comments like “I don’t think that’s the appropriate medium for that piece,” “I think you used the wrong perspective for that one,” “how come that woman isn’t positioned at the centre of picture with a powerful pose? This is sexist.” They look things over with a hint of admiration in their eyes and say: “These are really nice. I particularly like this one and that one.”

On the other hand, if I give them a story to read, along with being less than receptive because I’m a “nobody” writer, everybody becomes an expert and a critic. “I think this would have been better written in first person,” “this isn’t descriptive enough – I wanted to know exactly what the chair in the far corner of the room looked like,” or “the story ends too abruptly…yes, I know it is horror and the main character just died, but you should have found a way of extending it.” Few people respond the way they would have if you had just showed them a drawing of equal merit. The focus is almost always on exactly what they think is wrong with your work.

I have to say I am grateful for folks I know who have buckled down and forced themselves to read my work. Many of them don’t look at me like I eat babies anymore. Some of them are even eager to read anything new I have to offer. This along with the fact that I have publishers who have been willing to invest effort and money in publishing and promoting my work does give me some sense of validation. It still doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t have to prove myself over, and over, and over again. And I can guarantee you that I will slip up from time to time. Everyone does.

Someday, I hope my work and name will stand on its own, and readers don’t spend the majority of their reading time scrutinizing every corner for the negative. They’ll just take it at face value and enjoy it for what it is, the way they would with one of my drawings. That’s what I long for.



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