It bugged me enough that I’ve blogged about it…..

So, I’ve grown to love Facebook. It used to be the bane of my existence, but I’ve learned to love it. I spend a lot of time on my Jennifer McKenzie Facebook page as opposed to Jennifer Leeland’s page. Of course, the politics can annoy me and there are way too many cute, shallow things that can be overdone. But for the most part, I find it a nice place to go and there’s funny shit on there too.

Then, I saw this.

complete bull pucky

I looked up Cheryl St. John and she’s a Harlequin writer. I don’t know if she’s actually the one who said this, but let me address the words that attributed to her.
This cute, throwaway saying denigrates every writer who works for a living, who raises children or who takes care of an elderly relative and writes frantically when they can. This quote basically says that we, as writers, must completely shut out the world, put that laser-like focus on our writing or we are wasting time.
Of course, I saw the thing originated from a Facebook page called “Writer’s Write”. Another cute saying that means that the definition of a writer is defined by the product.
Writer’s dream. We ruminate over ideas in the shower, while a baby is screaming in our arms before they go to sleep, while we’re doing some mind numbing task at an evil day job. We are staring at our coworkers and wondering if we can incorporate that weird little quirk into our character. We are getting into a heated argument with our significant other and having the thought “I am so using that in my next scene”.
Writers create. The writing part is only a slice of a complicated pie that tastes a lot like apples.
Please. Cheryl St. John, if you said this quote, I want you to rethink it. Don’t tell me that because I work, volunteer, give my spouse and children the attention and love they need and spend time with my friends that my writing isn’t important to me, that it’s a hobby.
This kind of shit isn’t inspirational. It causes resentment. Don’t you think I’d like to ignore the world and write all the time? Don’t you think I’d love to go to writer’s conferences and spend a week with inspiring people who do what I do? But honey, there’s that pancake breakfast for my kid’s school and the big work event I have to attend, and the Boy Scout campout that benefits more than just my kids, but other kids who need guidance. Don’t you think I wouldn’t love to go to a cabin somewhere for six months and write some existential novel complete with quotable characters and deep concepts?
Hell yeah, I would. But where the hell would I get any “characters” if I didn’t live a life? Should I wait until my life is essentially over and THEN begin to write?
To everyone who thinks I’m just writing as a hobby? Get over it. It may not look like what you think it should and I may not make enough money for YOU to think I’m successful, but if I gave a shit about what everyone thought, I never would have started in the first place.
To everyone who has supported me, loved me, giving me twenty minutes of needed writer talk and been there when I panicked or spiraled into frustration, I adore you and thank you.
To Cheryl St. John I say this. Writers are more than “just writers”. I don’t want to read your books because of this quote. Anyone who has no life isn’t someone I want to read. Life is the fodder, the MEAT in story. The best authors, the ones I love, are people who LIVE. They live a lot.
Writers do a lot more than just write, honey. We experience everything that this world has to offer and then, we translate that into words from our own perspective, sharing with others.
Call it a hobby if you want.



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18 responses to “It bugged me enough that I’ve blogged about it…..

  1. Anyway, if we didn’t DO something besides writing, if we didn’t live a little, we’d have nothing to write about. The only person who can decide if you’re a real writer or not is a reader. Everything else is just silliness.

  2. I’m inspired by this. Hope your day is wonderful … and chaotic, just like mine.

  3. Claudia, I so disagree with you. A reader has never and will never make me a writer. If I hung it up today and said screw it to publishing, but still wrote for myself, I’d still be a writer. You’ve pretty much just said if you’re not published and are not being read, you aren’t a writer. That’s no better than not having a life means you take your writing seriously. A reader just means you’ve been read, which is nice. It doesn’t make me anymore of a writer than an unpubbed author.

    • Jen

      I think definitions get tricky anyway. A “serious” writer versus what? A frivolous writer? Now, there IS a difference between published and unpublished, but I’m not sure one is “better” or “more serious” than the other. Writerly advice should (IMHO) be simple. Write. Read. Take criticism. Be true to your voice. Simple. Right? LOL!!!!!

  4. Sue

    *stands and applauds wildly*
    You, my dear friend, have just pulled this rant directly from my stress addled brain! Love you!!

  5. Neena

    I’m a reader. I have NEVER considered being a writer. I am in complete awe of those who are. I AM a strong, complicated, involved woman. I frequently have trouble finding enough time to take a shower, let alone add another activity to my schedule. I admire you for all you do, and especially for honoring that passion in you that makes you write. DO IT FOR ME!

  6. Jen

    Huh. I wrote this blog post and then a link to this showed up in my Twitter feed…..

  7. Jen. *applauds* So true.

    I cannot balance all the lives I’ve saved over the 20+ years of my medical career and the ones I’ve created in my books. Both sides of that coin are me and I embrace them both. I would not be who I am today without one or both of them. When people ask how I can possibly write scenes of death or body trauma so convincingly, I can tell them truthfully, because I’ve seen it, and experienced it.

    I’ve also learned over the years to never allow myself to be defined by others. (hey…think I’ll put that on a t-shirt and coffee mug.)
    Great post.

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