So, I was at a social function (gasp) last weekend. I knew very few people, and my anxiety was running high. Unavoidably, I got into a conversation with a man about writing. It actually turned out okay; we spoke about the craft of writing, and I talked about why I like to keep my writing separate from the rest of my life, and he was totally cool with it (because why wouldn’t he be?).
Then, later in the afternoon, I got talking with another man. And this guy, in front of a room of people, literally demanded to know how many books I’d published – in a borderline aggressive tone – and then asked about my income. This was the first conversation I’d ever had with him. But sadly, it was not the first conversation I’d had of this ilk.
WHY do some people think it’s appropriate to ask writers about their sales or earnings? And why do some people get so offended if I choose to keep my work private? Is it because they can’t comprehend someone who wouldn’t brag and show off at every available moment? I write for me, not for fame and adoration. This is MY career, MY choice, and anyone who can’t handle that can sling their ‘ook.
I chose to move to a pseudonym because I was sick of certain people acting like they had a stake in my career, offering conditional support and ‘advice’, and basically sticking their neb in where it didn’t belong. I felt owned, like my success was their success too. Even when I explained that publishing in private removed a lot of pressure and stress, and helped me write more freely, people still couldn’t hack it. One even admitted to trying to FIND me. They had no respect for me whatsoever. I was nothing but a pawn, or a trophy. None of my friends acted this way – they didn’t take it personally when I chose to go private – but others? It was like I’d betrayed them. Like I’m supposed to make career choices FOR them, rather than for myself.
Sometimes I wonder if I were male would I have to put up with this shit? Some folk can’t help but try and control women, especially when they’re off on their own, doing their own thing. Well, to these people:
P.S. Isn’t Michelle Fairley the best?