Writing Cheerleaders – and Naysayers

Some of the birthday sussies from my writing gals. Allison Pang sent the fab martini glass. It’s a quote from Dorothy Parker: “I like to have a martini, Two at the most. Three, I’m under the table. Four, I’m under my host.” Apropos in so many ways! Marcella sent the dramatic Mardis Gras ring, which embodies Ruby. And Laura Bickle sent the gorgeous sun pendant, which has a special meaning, celebrating this summer.

This kind of support – thoughtful celebrations like this – mean a great deal to me as a writer. It can be a lonely and difficult business, so these little joys, and reassurances that someone else cares, can make all the difference.

We all know – there always seem to be plenty of people waiting to undermine what you’re doing.

I read this article the other day. It’s an excellent and insightful essay by nonfiction writer Rebecca Solnit on how men reflexively tend to explain things to women. Often without regard for the woman’s expertise and education. And if you guys out there are feeling irritated – I followed this link from a male Twitter friend, who recommended it. But it was funny, as these things often seem to happen, I read this article on the same day that I had an annoying encounter.

We were having lunch with one of David’s colleagues and the conversation was quite stilted. At one point, I think in an attempt to find a congenial topic – and to include me in the conversation – David said that my book had come out a few weeks ago and my pic was in the NYT. The man looked puzzled and asked, “your book?” I said yes, the most recent one. He asked how many I have written, so I explained about the various novellas and the recent published novel. When I finish, he frowns at me and says, “I thought it was really hard to get published.”

I was so taken aback that I didn’t have an immediate reply. Other than to toss my hair and giggle. He didn’t need me to answer that, though, because he launched into a story about a friend who wrote a book – which he thought was a really good and valuable book – and could never get it published. I just nodded, smiled and ate my lunch. And let him explain the publishing business to me.

I’m at a point in my career where this kind of idle slam means little to me. I can shrug it off, because I clearly have more expertise in this arena than he does. Yes it’s difficult. I happen to be good at what I do. Plus, I’m persistent – something his friend wasn’t.

But for all of you out there still aspiring, who don’t have that real- life experience to fall back on? Don’t listen to these people, please. Never listen to the people who haven’t done it.

And trust in yourself and your own dreams. Your own persistence.

Have a great weekend everyone!

10 Replies to “Writing Cheerleaders – and Naysayers”

  1. MWWET (Men Who Will Explain Things) are everywhere. Rebecca’s article and your advice are so important – we can’t be silenced and shouldn’t have to suffer fools, and encouragement and admiration (of each other, at least!) helps us remain calm through the tough lunches with a Very (self-) Important Person. I’m amused that you could stay quiet as he expounded…

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Jeffe! The article you linked to is a must-read. I’m sorry you had that experience. It’s tough when it’s so blatant and I think your words “idle slam” are so true. A blatant insult that’s made worse by the simple truth that the person doesn’t fully register they are being insulting. But there really isn’t a lot to say when someone has already made up their mind. It will take a huge shift in thinking on a broad scale to change the socially accepted view. In the meantime, thanks for the encouraging post. We have to keep believing.

    1. I think that’s right, Kinley – I would have felt different if I’d thought he’d been deliberate in the insult, instead of just plain, thoughtless.

  3. OMG. How did you manage not to levitate across the table and strangle him with his own napkin?? Oh. I get it. You were waiting for his ignorance to strangle him for you. Wise. Very wise.

  4. Uh! What a jerk! I hate this kind of thing. This is fabulous advice. It’s about persistence, and just doing the work, moving forward.

    What a good sport you are. I think Rogue should turn him into a blowfish.

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