The Invisible Writer

Hey Writers! Do you feel invisible? Misunderstood? Do your friends and relatives know what you’re doing with your life? Do they think you’re some kind of dilettante? I know it’s not just me, because I’ve heard other writers complain about the same things. What am I talking about? Well, in the past two weeks, the following incidents occurred:

1. I told a friend, someone I’ve known over half my life, that a collection of my short stories is being published as an e-book. She asked, “Which stories? You wrote some stories?” (The 11 stories in the upcoming collection were written over the past 3 decades. Some were published in literary magazines.)

2. Another long-time friend read one of the posts on my blog because he wanted information on the particular topic it addressed. Afterwards he sent me an email saying, “Oh, now I get it! This is what you do with your time!” All these years he didn’t know I was writing? We lived together for 6 months when I first moved to San Francisco; what did he think I was doing in my room behind the closed door?

3. Yesterday I was waiting in my apartment lobby for someone who was coming to get me, doing a crossword puzzle and muttering aloud the clues and answers. One of my neighbors came out of her apartment and said she thought someone was talking on the phone. I confessed I talk to myself because I live alone. She suggested I join a senior group. She’d misinterpreted what I said–I didn’t say I was unhappy, just that I talk to myself. I have no desire to join any activity groups, so I told her I’m too busy writing. I

An example of a British-style crossword puzzle.

immediately regretted it, because of course she asked what I write. I get so sick of that question, and I have a hard time articulating why it bothers me so much. I mean, what do people think I write? I write stories, essays, blogs, letters, books, poems…and the next time someone asks me what I write I swear I’m going to say “Words. I write words.

I’m really curious to know if other writers get this stuff, and if they mind it like I do. Come on, writers—talk to me!

Excerpt from
“For the young who want to”
by Marge Piercy

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorablyAzaleas
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting…

…The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.


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4 Responses to The Invisible Writer

  1. eranamage says:

    I hear you, sister! People either just say ‘that’s nice’ or ask me when started writing. When I learned to write. I don’t think a person wakes up and goes ‘today I’ll be a writer’ and then they are. Either you are a creative storyteller, a wordsmith, or you aren’t. I get even more looks when I say I write adult fantasy. ‘Fantasy is for kids’. Um no, it has roots in the old sagas, creation tales, in ancient Greece, and Egypt, in the stories around the camp fire. In many ways fantasy makes sense of the world, in many ways it is escapism. That is not a bad thing, sometimes it is wonderful to go on an adventure!

    Non-writers may have little clue what is involved, how time consuming, and soul consuming it is.

  2. eranamage says:

    Reblogged this on Library of Erana and commented:
    Yup, I’d agree with this.

  3. I don’t worry about what other people think. Most people don’t know how to respond to a given question on a given day. Those that are interested in you or your writing will carry on an intelligent conversation with you. I can’t tell you how many times after telling someone that I was a writer that they remarked how their aunt, sister, brother-in-law or landlord just wrote a book. It used to bother me but now I just say something like, “Is that right?” and go on my merry way. Maybe they don’t know what to say or they want to say something that relates to you.

  4. Olga Godim says:

    A very familiar situation; happens to me all the time. I decided to be amused by it.
    A wonderful poem. Thanks.

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