I went for a manuscript review last week with the writer in residence at the CPL. His name is Bruce Hunter, and within 5 minutes I felt like I had made a new friend. We really hit it off. We even graduated from the same high school, although he was a few years ahead of me. I savour happy coincidences like that.
The first thing he asked me was, “Who edited “What Happened to Grandma?”
“Nobody. I just wrote it and proofread it myself. Made a few revisions…”
“OK, then we don’t need to talk about writing. We need to talk about how to get your work out there and noticed. Your prose is clean. It has a sweetness and musicality to it. I wouldn’t discount pursuing the literary side of things. Do you write poetry?”
He gave me a couple of pointers and related some of his own experiences, then we talked about other things that were peripherally related to writing.
It’s nice when friends compliment my writing, but it’s not completely unexpected. Most of the reason that we’re friends is because we have shared tastes and values. We like the same music, movies, and books. I like the paintings and songs they make. They like my writing. It makes sense. With no disrespect to my friends intended, it’s more satisfying when a stranger enjoys my writing. When a stranger finds my writing to be well done, it’s purely an opinion based on the writing. They know nothing about me. The writing stands alone, and is judged on its own merit. I find that to be extremely gratifying.
I like writers and painters and musicians and comedians and actors. They’re my tribe. They contribute things to humanity that are so much more robust and meaningful than fat bank account balances. Some have money, some don’t, but ultimately it doesn’t matter to me. Their creative ideas are what interests me.
Business people don’t make any sense to me, and I’ve accepted that I’ll never fit in with them. I find their motivations to be incomprehensible, and so having an interesting conversation with them is all but impossible*1That’s why small talk is so important in business settings. I don’t give a shit if they hit their quarterly sales targets. I don’t give a shit how much revenue is being generated. That stuff seems shallow to me. Their uniforms*2Business suits and dreary hair styles are dull and predictable, perfectly reflecting their utter lack of imagination. Making money just for the sake of making money is a concept I can’t wrap my head around.
Tip of the hat to you if you make things for the love of it. Please keep building your model railways. Keep painting one-of-a-kind christmas ornaments. Keep playing your guitar for people. Keep making comic books. You are making the world a richer and immeasurably more interesting place.
I wrote this post entirely with my left hand. Alice has developed the habit of having me hold her chewy toys while she gnaws on them. Good thing I’m ambidextrous.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||That’s why small talk is so important in business settings|
|2.||↑||Business suits and dreary hair styles|