During my senior year of college I took a required writing workshop. We each picked our poison, poetry or fiction. I opted to do a novella and at the end of the semester we each had to go forth in front of an audience in a peculiar cavernous art space to read our work aloud. As writers and students who had both enjoyed and struggled with our projects, we were excited to share our work with an audience.
Our professor, a spirited albeit realistic poet, had a heart to heart on the evening of our final class. He told us to cherish the work that of our peers and ourselves, for as hard as we had worked and however proud we might be of the final product, there will always be someone in an audience to jeer and diminish our art just for kicks.
The professor told us this not to belittle and demolish our enthusiasm, but to ease us into the real world of writing where everyone won’t champion you or your work for whatever reasons. Sometimes it boils down to staunch conformity, those who can’t see beyond a path chosen for them or one they believe can’t be steered from; sometimes it will be those who have given up or failed. Whatever the reason may be, perseverance will always be in your corner if you give it a chance.
It is neither my goal to live curmudgeonly (well, maybe for part of my life), nor is it to cut of one ear in memory of all poor artists before myself. Having a support system of various kinds not only encourages a poor writer, but also helps maintain a socially acceptable amount of sanity.
Often enough, writers at various stages of their careers will be faced with the supportive and unsupportive. Here are two common types.
The Eye Roller aka Negative Nancy
One who rolls their eyeballs toward the back of their skull, bored of hearing people go on about their dreams, privy to saying things like, “You’re no Hemingway,” and are somehow aware of said person’s inevitable failure. In other words, they have the gift of foresight and you’re wasting their time.
The Reality Checker
They’ve inherited the gift of intensity, or have been beaten into submission by a series of unfortunate events. Either way, this person is the Isaac Newton of keeping it real and will likely advise you with the classic, “Get a real job and join the rest of us.” Here’s the thing, lots of writers have day jobs and some don’t. Not every writer is roaming the world of fantasy, but writing technical and academic pursuits as well. I usually don’t feel the need to explain myself, but those who do, here you go.
Having some folks in your corner is always nice, though this doesn’t happen for everyone. If you’re keen on the idea of creating a network of support to keep motivation up: workshops, readings, meet up groups, and the like serve as great starting points. Remember, support isn’t just being surrounded by those in your field, but people who love and care for you as well. Take care, Poor Writers.