Whether this sounds snarky or not it needs to be said, and I guess I'm going to be the one to say it.
PLEASE STOP TALKING SH*T TO WRITERS.
This is a desperate plea from a writer trying her hardest to remain a pacifist, but some people make it hard. While I juggle edits and the general neurosis that goes with trying to tell stories people will read in a world where, to quote Dr. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, "Print is dead," you dum dums say things that make me understand why some of the best writers of our time went a little batty.
Let's examine, shall we?
1. I'd like to be a writer.
It's usually said with the same wistful sigh one would use when saying they always wanted a sports car or a pony or their own chocolate factory, or a vacation in the Bahamas for the next six months: the kind of sigh upon which wishes are made. The implication- I live in a fancy dream world where lollipops fall from the sky and everyone looks like they do in their overly filtered pictures and not at all like they do at Walmart. Everyone has a luxury tree house and no one gets rejection letters.
2. I'd write too if I had the time
Okay, this one is the best. The image it invokes is me as some sort of Atlas holding not the world, but a giant hourglass filled with copious amounts of time on my shoulders while I drink mimosas in the morning and do evening parties at the Great Gatsby's mansion in the Hamptons. It summons up visions of the glamorous writer sipping martinis over charcuterie plates while the world passes her by. While in reality this writer is up before dawn hunched over the keyboard like a gollum protecting the "precious" while the kids sleep. I'm writing notes on Acme receipts at red lights on my way home from food shopping, formulating this blog in my head while out for a run, thinking of ways to come up with a catchy "pitch" to land an agent for my next book. The statement implies a life of lavish rest when the truth is...I AM ALWAYS WORKING.
For how much you ask? That leads to the next one on the list.
3. You have books out. You must be rich.
Hold on a sec on while I catch my breath.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Okay, I'm good. BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH.
4. I've always thought about writing.
Have you ever heard someone on the Savannah say, I've always thought about not getting mauled by a lion? Probably not. You never hear someone say while engulfed in flames, "Yeh, I was thinking about putting them out." That for me is the equivalent of what these chuckleheads are saying because it implies I have a choice as to whether I write or not. For me it has never been a decision but a burning desire. It consumes me. It makes me pull over when I'm driving to write something down. It makes me yank my hands out of the sink while doing dishes to get a story down and wakes me up out of the deepest slumber to get an idea down on paper. It makes me talk to characters who do not exist and write blogs on the snack table while my family watches Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
And last but not least, here is my favorite one. This one that takes the taco for sure.
5. I'd like to try writing but ...
Now before I get super snarky, let me clarify there are two versions of this.
The first is the person who says it in a specific tone. They dismissively hold my book in hand like it is a napkin I've just used to wipe mustard from my lip, the kind of person who looks at a book like it is, I dunno...a hot dog.
This ding dong diminishes the writing process as if it's something, hmmm anyone can do one morning if they don't have a squash match scheduled. To this person writing is a whim or a fancy, like picking up a foot long with sauerkraut because you've got a craving.
My reaction: Oh, would you like to write a book (said like a dirty word). That's nice.*Here comes the snark.* But this is like me walking up to Flea and telling him I'd like to try slapping sometime though I have A. no knowledge of how to play a bass B. a complete lack practice. Oh, and C. zero skill.
The worse or sadder version of this is when it comes from the knucklehead with good intentions, the one who really may want to write but spends more time talking about it than actually doing anything. It happens more often than not.
I know I'm being a bit of an idiot here too (self-awareness is important as a writer) contradicting myself by talking about writing; but when it comes down to it, you just have to do it. Those who choose this life, this insanity of rejections and second-guessing, editing and re-editing, don't have the luxury to talk about it. They...okay I... am too busy writing notes and crafting characters, researching agents and pushing articles onto every poor soul I know with a fresh pair of eyes.
For this last person on the list, I defer to the great bard himself, Master Yoda. "DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY."
Writing is an art of doing. So if you want it, stop talking about it. Manifest your destiny, cupcake.
And do it.