Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Zombies are only funny until you become one."

--Natalie Whipple

That quote seems strangely applicable today. I keep trying to think of something to blog about but my skull is making this high-pitched buzzing noise that leads me to suspect some sort of insect has been trapped inside and may or may not be eating its way through my gray matter in an attempt to escape the House of Horrors that is my brain.

Or it may be because I edited for three solid hours yesterday and managed to get through 90 pages of material.

I only got those three hours in by going to an indoor park and letting my kids run wild while I sat on the couch and wrestled with The Sequel. Near the end a woman I vaguely know showed up and wanted to chat, even though I informed her I was working. And, after having had to explain to her what I was doing, show her my book cover, and talk about how hard it is to squeeze in work, she smiled and closed the conversation by saying, "It's so nice you have a hobby."

At which point my head exploded.

Because here's the thing, guys. This is where you switch from having a hobby to being a writer. The mind-numbing, hour-after-hour, please-I-don't-want-to-do-this-anymore-let's-just-watch-Arrested-Development-on-DVD-instead, how-on-earth-is-writing-this-much-work stage. Anyone can write a book. Everyone who wants to should. But it's only when you put in the work (and make the sacrifices, and give up your social life and your sanity and occasionally lower your personal grooming standard) to take something that was fun and make it into something that is good that I think you cross from being a hobbyist to being a writer.

Writing is WORK. The best work, sure, but work nonetheless.

I didn't, however, explain this to the woman. I let out a snort of a laugh, smiled, and went back to work. Because I am a writer, and that's what we do.

42 comments:

Kristan said...

You are so nice. I might have killed that woman if she said that to me. I mean, not literally, but in my head. Perhaps in a story. Ah, writer's revenge, how sweet it can be... :P

Ky said...

"It's nice you have a hobby." I seriously might have beat her with the nearest branch. Lolz. That did make me laugh out loud though. *shakes head* Some people.

Believe me, we all appreciate your long hours and head-ache inducing editing sessions. ^.^

Falen said...

wait wait wait.
You talked about the book, showed her the book cover and she STILL said it was a hobby?

that is horrible on so many levels. 1 - because she's a jerk, or purposely obtuse.
2 - because it means that sometimes we just can't win. And that's frustrating.

Kiersten White said...

Tee hee hee. Yup, it just means sometimes we can't win. It's all good. I could see her thinking--I'm a stay-at-home mom and my husband has a regular job, so anything I do on the side thus falls into "hobby."

But real writers understand, so it all works out, right? And anyone who does any sort of arts freelance gets this same thing. My brother-in-law is a professional artist and people are always trying to get him to do things for them for free since "It's what you do, and it won't take you long." Umm, yes, it's what he does PROFESSIONALLY, and he has worked for years to get to this point. It'd be like asking a doctor for just a little surgery on the side for free.

Ah well. It's kind of funny, too.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

*Snorts* *Spits coffee on the screen* *sighs*

Ah yes, my "hobby." Do you also get told that it's "cute" that you write? Cause I do. Course, those are usually the same people who ask me why I don't have kids, and when I tell them that my doctors aren't sure I can they treat it like I'm just not trying hard enough. People are fun.

But you're right. Writing is WAY more work than people realize. The last two months I haven't watched any TV, or seen any of my friends, or really gotten out of the house because I was trying to finish my agent's revisions. Ah the glamorous life I lead. :)

Kristen said...

People who don't write just don't understand the amount of work that goes into it. I have some family members who give me that blank smile when the topic of my writing comes up. The best thing you can do is what you did, smile and nod :)

Jo Treggiari said...

I think this is one of the main reasons that writers are friends with writers (or actors with actors, painters with painters) because anyone including dear friends and husbands who doesn't write professionally can never fully understand how hard it really is.

Anne said...

Ughhhh passive aggressive SAH mothers taking out their frustrations... is so... frustrating! I bet she knew what she was implying too. I'm sorry. You are a saint.

Sara B. Larson said...

I guess all you can do is laugh right? It's either that or curse her with being a zombie. ;-) I love it when people say, " I wish I had time to write a book. That must be so nice." Or some variation of the like. Yeah. Right. I do, too. They just don't get it. Thank heavens other Writers do!

Tara (The Bodacious Pen) said...

That woman sounds obnoxious, you handled it far more tactfully than I would have! :bonks her on the head with your book:

Even though I guess writing would still classify as a hobby for me, since I'm nowhere near the publication stage, I don't consider it as such. I consider it my creative outlet. I write because it keeps my brain that is prone to distraction and worry happy and busy, but mostly? I love it. If I get paid for it one day, awesome. If not, that's great too-but it's so much more than a hobby!

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love that quote. Who's writing the book?

Luckily we get it. And luckily we can kill them all - on paper - if we so choose and get paid for it (providing we're "lucky" enough to get published while pursuing this "hobby" that we can do in our spare time while eating bon-bons).

I was in a bookstore yesterday and looked for Paranormalcy. *sigh* Not yet...

Kay Cassidy said...

That is so classic! You are a far better woman than the mere mortal I am. :-) Go you on your 90 pages of new writing, honey. Rock. ON.

(Btw, I think it's hilarious that my word verification is FORKS. Does your blog know I'm hungry?)

Tere Kirkland said...

I would have personally flipped out and asked her if she got an advance of thousands of dollars for her hobbies.

Glad to see you taking it in stride. You're a better man than I.

Liberty Speidel said...

I'm sorry, but as a SAHM too, I know that trying to find the time to write and edit, especially with a toddler running helter-skelter, is difficult. Anyone that can make it work is worth giving kudos to. And, writing is work! It takes many hundred hours to get a story down on paper, then countless more hours to edit it and whip it into shape where someone may actually want to pay money to read it.

I think you restrained yourself well with this woman, Kiersten. Had it been me, I probably would have said something I'd later regret.

Of course, non-writers just don't get it.

Marsha Sigman said...

That is beyond rude. I cannot believe she said that, people just do not think sometimes.

Serenity Bohon said...

Ug! Hard to take. I know this happens, but I've been so lucky. The people around me only take for granted how easy it is in the sense that they can't believe I'm not published yet. Somehow they are impressed just that I have tried. I'm surrounded by believers. It's a good feeling.

Vicki Rocho said...

We'll help you get the ultimate revenge! We'll all buy copious amounts of your book so you wind up on the NYT Bestseller list and are sought after by everyone for interviews and speeches and articles. THAT oughtta fix her!

Hobby indeed.
(snort, growl, snarl on your behalf)

salarsenッ said...

OMG, I was on Twitter when you posted that. Yeah, a bat sounds pretty right.

Adam Heine said...

Did you tell her how much your hobby brings in?

Anthony said...

You get this in other places, not just writing, believe me I've seen it all. Disrespect and lack empathy go hand-in-hand. Americans, it has been my experience, are respectful and polite, but the exceptions are out there.

I chalk it up to their mommas and daddies had parenting issues.

Anyway, I take exception to your assertion that anyone can write a book. That has not been my experience. Anybody can start a book, only few can finish it, only fewer still can edit it, and even fewer than that can sell it.

I know many people who start books or writing projects, never to finish.

bookaholic said...

WAT!!??! How could any woman in her right mind call WRITING 'hobby'?!! That is so lame. Well I must conclude that she is of unsound mind. Really sorry if I am being too rude but seriously!!

Abby Stevens said...

Just think... that's someone's family member. Hopefully that won't be her attitude if her children decide to be writers. Reminds me how lucky I am that my family takes me seriously.

Did she say it cluelessly, or with the snittiness I hear in my head when I read her words?

Geoff said...

"But it's only when you put in the work (and make the sacrifices, and give up your social life and your sanity and occasionally lower your personal grooming standard) to take something that was fun and make it into something that is good that I think you cross from being a hobbyist to being a writer."

Hey... wait a minute. I already do all this. Writing is my second job that no one pays for me yet. Seriously, ask my wife. How fun is it to explain that you can't go out tonight because you have to write and NOT having a book cover to show someone? :D I know we've all been there.

So there's more work ahead? Yikes...

By the way, Kiersten and Natalie, that quote is a misrepresentation. Zombies are never funny... ever. Even when they're funny, they could still eat your brain. And that is terrifying. Good thing I'm preparing my bunker already for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Don't worry, I've save you jokesters room.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I have to confess, I've used the hobby line before on an aspiring writer--because she seemed so doe-eyed about the actual process and I wanted to inform her gently that it was more work than that. I think I said something like, "Writing is one my favorite hobbies, too." And she said, "Oh no, it's not a hobby. I have a friend in publishing who's going to sell my book." That was the last I heard of this book she hadn't even begun writing.

But to have somebody say that after you showed her the cover, and told her you were editing it for publication? I'm thinking she was being obtuse. Maybe you should hand her a bookmark with your website so she can see how many adoring fans you've garnered pre-publication!

She is in for a surprise come September!!

Good work on editing so many pages in only three hours! It would've taken me thirty! You continue to impress.

Anthony said...

Wait, wait, I got this. I got this. Next time that happens, burst into tears, cry so hard snot runs out of your nose, and then fart loudly.

I bet they never bother you again about your career choice.

Stephanie Perkins said...

You are a very dedicated Hobbyist, indeed.

They should sell laptops and wrist braces at Hobby Lobby. Right between the scrapbooking materials and the party supplies.

Nick said...

The dreaded H word. It really needs it's own post.

Kiersten White said...

You are all so cute! And jumping to my defense! And IMPASSIONED!

In reality, I think she just genuinely didn't get it. I don't think there was any amount of condescension or anything of the type (although it certainly is out there), I think she really, truly just didn't get what I was saying.

And that's okay : ) If real people (HA, suddenly writers aren't real people) knew just how much work it took to be a writer, we'd probably lose a lot of our mystique.

AND--MOST IMPORTANTLY--I don't think it matters one bit whether or not you ever get paid for your writing. It's the love and dedication and work that make you a writer, not whether or not you get paychecks for it.

(Although in all fairness I am a HUGE fan of my paychecks, thankyouthankyouthankyouHarperTeen.)

Adam Heine said...

Well said, Kiersten. And I didn't at all mean to say that a lack of pay makes one less of a writer. Only that it's hard to consider something "just a hobby" after it crosses a certain income threshold.

Laini Taylor said...

Very nicely said, about being a writer. And you were so gracious. I hope your snort contained at least some disdain :-)

RissaWatkins said...

Hobby! That ranks right up there with the "I might write a book someday" as if it is so easy anyone can do it.

Read the excerpt of Paranormalcy on Harper Teen- loved it. Can't wait to buy my copy in the store.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'm a zombie too tonight. I didn't even post. I had about 15 roofers at my house today. I tried to write, but it wasn't happening. I left and read writer's market books... I think everyone should try and write a book. Then they'd see what the process is really like. :)

Dominique said...

I hear you. I must say, you were more polite to that woman that I probably would have been. Instead of a snort and a smile, she probably would have received from me nothing short of a growl. I applaud your patience.

Liz Czukas said...

No ARCs for her!

And brownie points for not punching her in the face!

Send your brain some Off, or maybe some Raid and get some sleep. This will all be over soon.

- Liz

Sarah said...

You're nicer than me. I might have exploded in a whole different way. Nice to have a hobby? You have deadlines and paychecks! It's not like stamp-collecting.

the Lola Letters said...

Ha ha! That is classic!

How nice for you. ;)

And Arrested Development on DVD is THE reason that my novel isn't finished yet... It's just so irresistible, I always make the wrong choice. ;)

Okay, A.D. AND naps. I choose naps a lot too...

Carrie Harris said...

Yep, you're nicer than me too.

Hope you're feeling less zombie-ish today. I can actually SEE, which is a dramatic improvement.

Lisa said...

Wow, you are too nice. =)

That lady just doesn't get it. Maybe when she sees your shiny new book on the shelves? Maybe then she'll know?

And, HELLO! You're getting PAID TO WRITE. That is not a hobby. That is a JOB.

You are a writer. Simple as that. That woman will know that for certain on 9/21/10. =)

Yikes. People.

Madeleine said...

Haha, that would drive me insane as well!

I'm only fourteen, yet I don't view my writing as a hobby. Hobby's imply leisure time. I do not consider my writing time leisure time. It's hard work. Tedious, a lot of the time.

Once you're in the groove of meeting a specific word count every day or waking up early to write or writing for a specific number of hours every day, writing is not a hobby. :D

Dara said...

Even though I'm writing without a paycheck, I still cringe when people think it's a hobby...the fact that she still thought that after you showed her the book cover either implies great ignorance on her part or perhaps some sort of passive aggressive snide remark.

Oh well. It's what writers have to live with, although it still makes our head explode every time a comment like that is made.

Stephanie McGee said...

I might have lost it publicly after that comment. I bow to your self-control. Squeezing in that time can be hard sometimes, but it is so worth it.

ASTRA REED said...

Real a great job.. wonderful and intresting tho....