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The Invisibility of Writers

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Hey Writers! Do you feel invisible? Misunderstood? Do your friends and relatives know what you’re doing with your life? Do they think you’re some kind of dilettante? I know it’s not just me, because I’ve heard other writers complain about the same things. What am I talking about? Well, in the past two weeks, the following incidents occurred:

1. I told a friend, someone I’ve known over half my life, that a collection of my short stories is being published as an e-book. She asked, “Which stories? You wrote some stories?” (The 11 stories in the upcoming collection were written over the past 3 decades. Some were published in literary magazines.)

2. Another long-time friend read one of the posts on my blog because he wanted information on the particular topic it addressed. Afterwards he sent me an email saying, “Oh, now I get it! This is what you do with your time!” All these years he didn’t know I was writing? We lived together for 6 months when I first moved to San Francisco; what did he think I was doing in my room behind the closed door?

3. Yesterday I was waiting in my apartment lobby for someone who was coming to get me, doing a crossword puzzle and muttering aloud the clues and answers. One of my neighbors came out of her apartment and said she thought someone was talking on the phone. I confessed I talk to myself because I live alone. She suggested I join a senior group. She’d misinterpreted what I said–I didn’t say I was unhappy, just that I talk to myself. I have no desire to join any activity groups, so I told her I’m too busy writing. I immediately regretted it, because of course she asked what I write. I get so sick of that question, and I have a hard time articulating why it bothers me so much. I mean, what do people think I write? I write stories, essays, blogs, letters, books, poems…and the next time someone asks me what I write I swear I’m going to say “Words. I write words.”

I’m really curious to know if other writers get this stuff, and if they mind it like I do. Come on, writers, I get so few comments. Stop being such dilettantes and talk to me.

Excerpt from
“For the young who want to”
by Marge Piercy

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what 
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting…

…The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

About marcys

I'm a writer. What do I write? Words. I write words.

One response »

  1. Um, yeah. I have been writing for a living since 1978 and people always ask me “Are you still writing?!” like it’s some cute hobby I’ve probably given up on. Does anyone ask doctors or lawyers or dentists if they still do what THEY do? I think not.

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