I ran into a frustration this weekend at a book store. While waiting in line I overheard someone say, “What’s so special about people that write books? I mean, anybody can be a writer. I don’t think they are that big a deal.” I have a feeling that the girls I overheard were experiencing the first week of school blues. They were probably studying long dead authors that they felt no connection to. I’m sure they were science or math majors or a different non-literature related something or other. They probably viewed the class as a hurdle to be jumped, just a pesky time waste standing in their way. It happens, I felt the same way about a few classes. However, it still made me a tad bit perturbed.
The thing is, anyone can write, but not everyone can be a writer. There is a big difference. Writing involves constructing sentences from words. All one needs to know is how to put a verb with a noun, add some punctuation, and then repeat. Being a writer involves long hours researching, the desire to spend most days frustrated and alone, the ability to take on the emotional weight of the characters and story you are involved in, and (I’ve discovered after spending time with other writers) a bit of insanity and darkness. We writers are a strange lot. Much like another crazy bunch, runners, something in our brains pushes us to do something that feels miserable but that we must do to feel well and whole.
Now, I know that I heard the little snippet of eavesdropped conversation without context and that I took it entirely too personally, but as the title of this blog implies, I like to rant. There are probably other people that feel the same way about their professions. Photographers and designers most likely deal with this on a regular basis. I feel their pain. Although I am just starting my career as a writer, that is what I am and I can say with certainty as well as with great respect, those authors in your lit classes, they are kind of a big deal.