I had a conversation this week with a writer friend that spurred several thoughts. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to post on this topic, because it’s something I could accidentally express the wrong way, but I find the topic interesting. And I wanted your thoughts.
For the most part, I find this writing community amazing. The endless support and gifts of service I see exchanged are heartwarming and inspiring. I really have seen the best of people in this community. But I also see a lot of cliques—groups of people who only associate with each other based on “status” or where one is on the writing journey.
Which is sad.
It’s natural, of course, for people to connect and for friendships to be forged like anywhere outside of the writing world. I too have my tight circle of friends, but I’ve seen quite a bit of segregation as of late. Agented authors only speaking with agented authors. Big 6 authors snubbing anyone who isn’t pubbed by Big 6. People with book deals cutting people out who are “lower” in status because they’re not pubbed yet, etc. And the ways of snobbery are endless—not responding to comments on fb or twitter, ceasing to reciprocate comments on blog posts when it’s clear they’re doing so elsewhere. And most of all, the obvious change of behavior when someone has success.
No, I don’t think every published author needs to respond to his or her fans, but I’m talking friendships within the community. I’ve seen friends change because their “status” has changed. Which is silly. Whether someone has reached a certain point on the writing journey or not does not make someone better than you. It does not mean you are any less than they are. But it can still get inside our heads.
Which in turn creates self-doubt. It creates an environment where we can never be content with ourselves if we let other people have this kind of control over us. Where we might not be happy with one form of publishing because we won’t fit into a certain status or fit in with a group of people we want to be a part of. When in actuality, a different path might be what’s better for our happiness and us.
I think some people have this preconceived idea of what success is—and if it doesn’t fit into the mold, then we aren’t successful. And I think this idea is generated from us putting people on pedestals, from thinking that these cliques living in bubbles of “fame” are where/who we should be.
We can’t let our happiness or our writing journey be affected by others. It’s about the writing. It’s about creating something beautiful. Not what is going on around us.
The people I respect the most in this community (And I wish I could drop names!) are the people who respect the art for what it is. They don’t get caught up in what publisher they're with, or drop the name of their publisher every other sentence, or scream about their work and their fans all day long. The people I respect measure their success by being heartfelt and honest, by taking the time to be real and help other authors, and by focusing on what’s most important.
Just because we’re not associating with our colleagues face to face, I still think it’s incredibly important to think about what we type before we type it, or rethink how we might come across before we post something. I know it’s made me think about how I appear in this community, and I know it’s extremely important to be aware that one person can make a difference—that one person choosing to step outside of their clique and friending someone could make or break someone’s writing career.
Any thoughts? Have you seen this kind of segregation? Does it affect you? Or have you learned to ignore it and focus on what is most important?
Red. Head. Out.