A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Stupid People

If you haven’t been on my blog in a while (which I admit is partially my own fault), you might not know that I’m still technically doing the A to Z Challenge. 

See, back in April, my Internet, electricity and even just my life conspired together to stop me finishing the Challenge in April. I wanted to finish the posts, though, so I turned it into a weekly series. Slowly, but surely, I’m getting there. And I have to say that I’m enjoying the fact that I have a ready-made topic at least once a week. 
Today, I’m going to address a little-expected fact of a writer’s life: 
We all get exposed to an alarming number of stupid people. 

Which is to say: 
People who think they know everything about writing when they’ve never really ever tried it. 

It’s easy to spot them. Some recent favorites that I’ve read/heard people say: 
John Green is a pervert because he writes about teenage girls. 
Writers should bow to the wishes of their fandom and change canon to suit them. 
Then there are the old classics: 
How hard can it be, sweety? 
You can’t be any good if you don’t have a publisher yet. 
Oh, so you’re published? You must be swimming in money. 
Or the million little variations of absolute bullshit spewed by Literature teachers everywhere (Sorry. Not sorry.), which then gets perpetuated in some negative way by people who know even less about writing, because the last time they even read anything was in high school. 
In short: People who pretend to know all about my life as a writer. They then try to belittle my experience as a writer. And in reality they don’t even have a vague clue. This. Pisses. Me. Off.
Generally speaking, there are three reactions: 
1) Hit a shovel into the stupid person’s face. (But this might land you in jail.) 
2) Ignore the idiot, but seethe about it for days. 
3) Or basically respond with some variation of “Well, why don’t you try writing and then get back to me, you asshole.”
I usually go with option 3. Sometimes, I even take the time to explain. The worrying thing is that more often than not, these people insist on remaining stupid. They don’t want to learn because really, they want to persist in belittling writers. Maybe it makes them feel better about their insignificant little lives. Or maybe they’re just trying to bully people for daring to be even a little different. 
The point is, if you’ve explained why things don’t work the way people imagine, and people still refuse to stop belittling you, you now know to wash your hands of the whole situation. You’re not a bad writer because of not living up to the stupid person’s expectations. They just can’t/won’t understand. 
And hey, if you’ve tried, you’ve tried. Sometimes, you don’t get through to them. Sometimes, you convert people to the dark-side. In trying to prove us wrong, they not only prove us right, but discover their own love for writing. Or sometimes, they discover they don’t love writing because it’s so dang difficult. But at least then, you’ve got them to shut up. 
Either way, the important thing to know is that when it comes to writing, non-writers are the stupid ones. Not you. Never you. 
Any stupid people in your life? What’s your pet peeve stupid question? How do you deal with the stupidity?

A to Z Challenge: Holding On

Recently, I wrote about determination, and one of my dear blogging friends brought up a very valid point that’s just as valid in holding on continuing to write. 

Belief in yourself. 
And now I know everyone is rolling their eyes. Thinking that I’m going into power of positive thinking territory. 
Uhmmm… no. And let me mention one thing. If I ever say that I think that positive thought will create positive events on their own, you can shoot me. Because odds are that I’m rabid. 
Because the way I see it (and I’m quite vocal about this) is that positive thinking serves to give you the determination to do what you need to do. But hey, there are people who think differently about positive thought, and maybe they’re right. 
Anyway… I’m digressing really – did you hear Margaret Thatcher died?- really badly. 
The fact is, writing a book is only the beginning. That finished product has a name. A first draft. After that, you have a second draft (maybe) and revisions (definitely) and edits (ad nauseum). And then… then comes this terrifying and truly trying time of a writer’s career. Querying and publishing. 
Because you’re probably going to get treated like your writing sucks. 
A lot. 
So. To make a long story short, determination alone won’t cut it. You need to believe in your abilities as a writer. In the beginning, you won’t have that, but your confidence will grow as you learn. And then, you also have to believe in the potential of your story. Once you’re really finished, you need to believe in the strength of it. 
Because if you don’t, you won’t make it. This I promise you. If your faith in yourself and your skills isn’t strong enough, you’ll buckle at the first no you get. Or at the first bad review if you self-publish.
And none of us want that. Because it might mean that we readers miss out on some wonderful stories you wrote. Or could have written. 
Don’t lose faith when things take longer than expected. You’ll get there in the end. 
If you hang on enough. 
Who of you veteran novelists were almost at the point of giving up when you got a  “yes”? Any stories of determination from the self-publishing trenches? 

A to Z Challenge: Critics

Here for the IWSG post? Click here. Here for more advice for beginning writers? Pull up a chair.

Well, new novelists. A few months into seriously writing a new novel, you’re going to discover that you’ve mutated.

Yeah. Like the X-Men.

You’re just not a normal human being any more.

Personally, I think this is great, because normal is… well… boring.

You’ll see yourself differently and you’ll look at the world differently. And sometimes, the normal people will speak. And you’ll think they might as well be speaking Swahili.

But today, I’m going to introduce you to another mutation in the human race. Here’s some info I want you to remember.

Name: Critic
Race: Human
Class: Asshole
Language: Bullshit

Description: The critic is a versatile and dangerous natural enemy to the writer. Usually, their calls take one of these forms:

  • So what’s your real job? 
  • Do you really think you have something to write? 
  • All the stories have been written already. 
  • But you’re not published, are you? 
  • What could there possibly be to writing a novel? (Implication: that you’re a prize idiot for taking long to finish writing.)
There are many more, but you get the idea. Their attacks are civilized, but if they hit home, they’re absolutely deadly to your muse. Do not. I repeat. Do NOT let their attacks stick. 
Defense: I prefer hitting them in the face with the shovel. But since that’s sort of illegal, the better idea is to use sarcasm. Or, if you’re the type of person who never gets the snappy come-backs, there’s another full proof way to get a critic to froth at the mouth shut up:
Practice the bestest best of your smug wise-ass smiles. Got it? No teeth. It makes you look like a werewolf. Good. 
Now. Repeat after me: 
“Why don’t you write a book and then ask that question again? Because right now, you haven’t a clue.” 
And then you walk away and pat yourself on the back being civilized while putting the critic in his or her place. 
Probably while contemplating a short trip to the garden shed.
So vets. How do you deal with critics?