Monday, January 30, 2012

Meeting Other Writers

It's possible I'm the only writer in the world like this. It's possible that I'm just judgmental, cynical, and socially awkward, and therefore, the only writer in the world who experiences this. But it's also possible I'm not alone, and others among you have the same weird thought processes that I do.

So on Saturday, I went to a Murder Mystery Dinner. The dinner was being hosted by a friend of a friend, and I wasn't an original invitee, since I didn't know these people. But at the last moment, another girl backed out and they needed a girl to replace her. So my friend was like, "I know someone who would love to come!" and thus I got to go to a Murder Mystery Dinner where I knew one couple out of seven people.

Anyway, when I got there I was introduced to one of the other attendees with the following, "Bittersweet, this is Other Writer. Other Writer writes novels. Other Writer, this is Bittersweet. She writes novels, too."

So I shook her hand, but I was thinking, "I wish he hadn't said that." Because I don't like being introduced as a writer or talking to other writers. Because you never know when someone is a real writer or not.

I don't mean a published writer, because that's easy to check. I mean someone who takes writing seriously, who works on it like a craft to be honed but also works on it because not doing so is literally impossible. A lot of people call themselves writers, but I would say only a small portion of them are real writers.

So yes, basically when introduced to other writers, I think "I'm a real writer. Is this person a real writer? Or are they a fake writer?"

I would rather not have that conversation at all, and my first plan of action is to always evade. Change the subject. Do anything else but have them reveal that they got impatient with the publication system to they epublished. (Which isn't to say that there aren't real, good writers going the epublishing route. It's just that, a lot of people e-publish because they don't care to take all the time to hone their craft and are impatient with the fact that writing is a craft, an art, that you must work hard at to become good at).

But I couldn't evade, I was asked point blank what I was working on, so I answered that I was working on the first revision of the book I had just finished. When then caused the girl's husband who was listening to say "oh, you just finished" a little mockingly, as if by saying that I was being high and mighty. In my mind, that was a warning flag that she wasn't a real writer. Which isn't fair. Some writers write one really good novel and that's enough. They spend their entire lives working on it. That's one way to do things. But I would like to make a living as a writer one day, so that's not the way I choose to operate.

The girl I was talking to then said she had been working on the same novel for the past seven years, which then put off another warning flag in my head. Another unfair one, since if you actually count how long I've had the story of Descent in my head, it's been TEN years (though I wrote the first draft just this past year in ten months). And technically, I've been working on Spirit Riddled drafts/revisions on and off for the past six years.

See? I'm being totally unfair. When I meet a writer, I judge them against this measuring stick that even I can't meet. It's ridiculous. Why did this happen? How have I become so judgmental against my own kind?

Turns out this woman is really rather nice. I think I could be friends with her. I don't know where she is in her writing career, but it's unfair of me to judge her so harshly without having read anything she's written.

So yes, I guess the moral of the story is I am judgmental, cynical, and socially awkward. But what I would like to know is if I'm the only writer who has this problem? Am I the only one wary of meeting "my own kind"? The only one who sometimes thinks I'm the only real writer in a world full of phonies? Have any of you dear readers had similar experiences?


  1. I don't think of this in terms of writers (not being/considering myself one sort of precludes that), but I do find myself doing so when people introduce me to someone else as a "tech guy". I get really nervous about whether the person is just someone who likes tech but doesn't bother to really understand things or is someone who can actually trade information back and forth with me--knowing more than me in some areas and less in others.

    It's a really silly thing to care about, and I try to put it out of my mind, but I'd be lying if I claimed it weren't a pretty regular thought.

  2. You know, it is a really silly thing to care about, and that's what I always try to tell myself, but it still pops into my head every time I'm introduced to another writer.

    I also think it doesn't help that though I'm not a perfect/amazing/professional writer, I'm a further along in honing my craft than a lot of people I meet, which then gives me this false sense of "I'm awesome." I need to meet more people who are more awesome writers than me, so I can stay humble.

    And even though it's a silly thing to think, I'm glad I'm not alone, Michael. :)

  3. To be honest, you sound very pretentious. 'Is this a "real" writer?' Ughhh... Perhaps you shouldn't take yourself and your writing so serious.