It’s a Lonely Craft
There’s a question in the Nanowrimo forums asking, “Do you get embarrassed about your writing?” My answer would be no, but that does not mean that I blab about it to anyone with an ear. In fact, I speak very little about it. I actively avoid the topic if I’m in any academic setting. For example: I’m taking a bioethics class this term. The prof, however, likes to have an interview with all of his students. So one of his questions to me was–when you’re not in lab, what do you like to do for fun? I have an easy, glib answer to this question–it’s truth but with omission. I never say that I do writing (or blogging for that matter) in my spare time. Because to do so would be to paint myself to other people, who think anything outside of academics and rock climbing as frivolous, as someone who is not serious.
Maybe it’s a fault of mine, or just some shallow yearning, but I want people to perceive me as someone who is serious (although not so serious that I’m known as an irascible lunk), who is worthy of attention and consideration. I suppose some would argue that all of this has to be earned, but I don’t want to be dismissed out of hand before I’m heard either. Then again, I’m not so sure I’ll ever feel that people will take me seriously unless I get some sort of personality transplant. In some ways, I’m envious of those who have such confidence that people will pay attention to them even when they come to work on a Tuesday, hung over from some party the previous day.
(I must clarify: I do not mean the sort of attention where people are seeking you out or you’re talking in front of crowds of people. The attention I’m talking about is the mindful sort. So when I decide to say something, people will take note of my words and not forget it because they think it’s fluff-brained idiocy.)
The problem is–I’m a private person, partly out of necessity. Speaking one’s mind is all well and good, but this also alters other people’s opinions of you. Now, you might not really care about what other people think of you, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that what people think of you will influence (perhaps even subconsciously despite efforts of impartiality) how they act towards you. And if these other people include someone higher up on the social food chain who has a huge effect on your future, then being circumspect–even excessively so–might be the best course to take.
I wish I could talk freely about my writing. But I’ve never had the right audience (most people, I’ve found, don’t like to be listeners). It’s either people who don’t care about writing or people who in all probability would think less of me for this hobby. And even if it happens to be other writers–well, other writers like to talk about their own creations and other people’s stuff be damned.
Have you considered joining a writing circle? I’ve known people who’ve made good writerly friends this way.
I’ve been in writing groups before, but it really depends on the people. Maybe I’ve just met the wrong people. Or maybe I’m just very insecure. But I always feel like no one cares about what I write or cares about the comments I make about someone’s work. If I even manage to get any comments in.