People who think they’re better than you because they’re published and you’re not

by Mhairi Simpson on June 11, 2012

We’ve all heard the stories. Parents/friends/spouses who don’t approve of your chosen course. Your parents and friends are worried you’re getting your hopes up needlessly.

“Very few writers earn a living from their writing,” they say, and within certain parametres, they’re right.

I’m sorry to say that various of my female author friends suffer from unsupportive spouses. Usually the wives in question started writing after they’d been married for a while. The spouses seem to resent the diversion of the wives’ attention from their men. The spouses in question also seem not to have hobbies of their own.

I don’t count TV-watching as a hobby.

Often any or all of these categories will say something along the lines of “you might not be good enough.” If you haven’t worked at your craft and put in some work at your writing, they could well be right. If you’ve decided (as a friend of a friend apparently said to her) to take “an extended break from work and write a book” when you’ve never written anything before, you may have a rude awakening in store. Writing takes work. And passion.

For all that, if this is truly what you want to do, you should forge ahead and damn well do it anyway.

Personally, I’ve found the most hurtful attitude came from other authors. Authors who are published and who seem to look down on some unpublished authors as ignorant wannabes. Unpublished authors are apparently good enough to be their fans and friends, but not their author equals. Or even people equals. Like, a lower level of friend than their proper author friends.

Yes, it’s happened to me. Yes, I’m still angry.

But I say to them what I say to everyone else who thinks I can’t make this work:

Fuck. You.

Just because I’m not published YET, doesn’t mean I won’t get published EVER. You can look down on me as an daft blonde wannabe without two brain cells to rub together if you really want to, but that doesn’t mean we won’t one day sit on a panel together. It doesn’t mean I won’t sell more books than you in the end. It doesn’t mean I won’t go on to be a mega-seller success and you will.

It especially doesn’t mean you’re a better writer than me.

Just because I’m generally perky and happy and say “yay!” a lot, doesn’t mean I’m stupid or ignorant. Just because I haven’t been working at this in a committed fashion for the past twenty years, doesn’t mean I can’t write.

It most definitely doesn’t mean I can’t write.

It’s a very bad idea to look down on people you think are beneath you simply because you’re published and they’re not. It’s potentially particularly bad as a business decision. Who knows what the future holds? No one has ever had to kiss my arse to get anything out of me, and I tend to discount arse-kissers as not having the ability and talent to achieve their goals without the arse-kissing. But there’s a difference between arse-kissing and common courtesy, and if I’m in a position where I get to choose between two authors of equal quality and one was a dick to me once…

What can I say? I’m female. And I have a very good memory. Most people do for insults and denigration.

Now, having got that off my chest, I will go back to my writing and not think about the stupid people any more. Thank you for your time.

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