Wednesday, 7 November 2012

When Arrogance Attacks

I was on the NaNo chat today, just hanging out and I saw an exchange between three writers that I just couldn't believe. It went something like this.

Newbie Writer: How is everyone doing so far with their stories?
Writer 1: I'm doing so great. How are you doing?
Newbie Writer: Pretty well. I'm right on schedule with my word count.
Writer 1: Have you started your query?
Newbie Writer: What's a query? I'm new. :)

Looooooooooooooooooooong pause where Writer 1 ignores the question.

Writer 2: *Posts link to Wikipedia article*
Writer 1: I have an agent though, so I don't have to worry about that.
Writer 2: I went to (inserts acronym for conference no one has heard of in town most people don't know), and when I left I had requests to submit three queries.
Newbie Writer: Congratulations. That sounds awesome.
Writer 1: Newbie, I hope your story is new and original though, or it's never going to be accepted.
Writer 2: Yeah. Well known authors can publish boring and unoriginal stories, but new writers can't.
Newbie Writer: Oh, thanks. This is my first time trying to write something, so later on I hope I'll be able to pick your brains, because I have a lot to learn.

I read this, dumbfounded by the pure awesomeness of such sage advice, and I thought to myself, "I wonder who these super famous authors are who are clearly using aliases to hide their epic famousness?" So I Googled, and discovered the biographies for the writers who have so much knowledge and experience that they feel the need to pass it on to poor newbie writers who know nothing.

Writer 1: One book published in 2002 and another out ten years later through a publisher of Canadian lit that puts out 10-12 books per year.
Writer 2: None. Nothing. Nada. The guru of book publications has not had anything published.

I wanted to reach in through my computer and smash their heads together. Maybe I jumped to conclusions, but the whole conversation sounded condescending and patronizing. The Newbie Writer was excited to be interacting with other writers from her area, and was being friendly. These other two girls were just trying to prove how important they are. I guess they didn't check Newbie Writer's word count, because she's written more than both of them combined.

I'm new to the writing scene too, but the impression I have gotten from most other authors is that as writers, we need to stick together and support one another. Writing is so personal, and so subjective. Constructive criticism is one thing (when asked for), trying to belittle or make another person feel stupid is quite another. Ugh! I find things like this so infuriating.

Yes, as someone who has published before, Writer 1 may have some insight to share with someone who is just starting out. It's always nice to know someone with experience who can show you the ropes before you go through it yourself, but writing two novels does not make her an expert, and being arrogant and rude isn't going to do anything for either writer personally or professionally.

/end rant.

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