Thursday, January 31, 2013
Writing is a lot like Riding
There's a certain culture surrounding equine sports that I used to assume was unique to the horse world. A certain commonality in socialization. I've realized, though, that there are strange customs in all arenas. On the surface, writing and publishing seem to have nothing in common with competitive dressage. But in both circles, similar behaviors prevail.
Whether it's a barn full of horse enthusiasts or a gathering of writers, you are guaranteed to observe the following:
1) All prior experience, education or expertise is irrelevant when meeting new people in your field; they all assume you are a a complete novice and know nothing.
2) As a complete novice, it is deemed imperative that you join one or several clubs, organizations, networks, and/or loose social gatherings so that your education can begin.
3) All of your new friends will tell you how congenial, helpful and generous they are.
4) All of your congenial, helpful, generous new friends ask for your support and in return, offer to support you.
5) All of your congenial, helpful, generous new friends do not support you in return.
6) Randomly greeting or attempting to engage anyone to whom you haven't been introduced results in scorn and/or dirty looks.
7) There are approximately a million experts and geniuses in your midst whose opinions are law and whose advice you simply must adhere to if you hope to ever be a success.
8) These geniuses use the majority of their skills telling others how they might become successful - they are so busy doing this, poor dears, that they accomplish very little for themselves.
9) It is understood that everyone excels at everything, and that focusing on unique skills is forbidden.
10) Taking advice into consideration, politely nodding, then doing what you feel is best is a cardinal sin, one which all your new congenial, helpful, generous, genius, highly skilled, completely fabulous, unfriendly friends will not hesitate to tell you about.
Whether it's riding or writing, you quickly become disenchanted with the social aspects and decide that what you truly want to do is write, or ride, and that if you let yourself get too caught up in all the "help" being offered you, you will become the antithesis of what you set out to be. I'm passionate about writing and literature, and I love talking to others about it, but this idea that you "have" to do anything is just as absurd as being given the cold shoulder the morning I walked down the aisle of the show barn and deigned to tell everyone, "Good morning." I don't follow any of the strange writing world customs, and I'd like to think that any and everyone feels welcome to ask me about any and everything. True friendliness, true help and generosity, shouldn't be something the self-appointed "it" crowd lords over others. Unfortunately, that's the world we live in, and choosing to go a different way makes the path a tricky one to navigate.