Friday, November 4, 2011

Non-Writers Don't Understand

If you're a writer, of course you already know this. If you're a non-writer, then you're probably thinking, What's not to understand?

The thing is that writers, being writers, are inevitably weird in our own special way, while non-writers lack this certain weirdness, preferring to be weird in other areas of life. Generally, therefore, as the weirdness-compatibility level between writers and non-writers is almost zero, the latter lack the capacity to comprehend certain weird traits of the former.

Feel free to quote me on that.

Anyway, it is for this very reason of incompatible weirdness that non-writers don't understand things like:
And the list goes on.

A while ago I saw an interview with JK Rowling, in which she was asked what her goal or her mission was in beginning to write the Harry Potter series. I found it kind of funny when Rowling actually had to explain to the interviewer that she didn't start off with revolutionising childrens' reading forever in mind. She just had a story that she loved, and one that she really wanted to tell.

In a recent documentary about her life and journey, she was asked, "Why do you still write?" Rowling answered like a true writer: "Because I love it and I need it." Her response really made me smile, because we share the weirdness of both being writers, and I understand what she means. I can relate. But one of my hundreds of friends* couldn't understand why she still works when she has millions of pounds. Why doesn't she just retire?

He's a non-writer. He doesn't understand.

The difficult thing about writing this post is that I'm trying my best not to offend any non-writers who think they do understand. I'm also trying not to offend writers who don't like the idea that they're weird (although writers should really be well acquainted with that notion).

But my offense concerns aside, the differing weirdness between writers and non-writers is simply a quirky difference I've noticed. Have you noticed it?

*not strictly accurate


  1. I definitely accept that I'm weird. Maybe even more so than most. And you're right--I have to pretend like my husband isn't home when I'm writing. If he walks in, I freeze in a panic and stare at him until he goes away.

    I've also noticed that writers and non-writers will talk about books in a different way. "Style" and "Voice" and such don't seem to enter the conversation when I'm with regular readers.

    But it's much the same way with gamers and Non-gamers, or any other sub-group of people.

  2. Oh yes, definitely. The gap increases when you start talking about publishing. The first time I mentioned the term slush pile to my friends all I got were raised eyebrows.

    Then there's talking about writing in general. It's so alien to me that someone would not want to write, even if they had a really cool idea! It took a long time for me to realize that I just had different priorities with my life/writing.

  3. Ah, too true. Non-writers don't really understand.

    I also wanted to say that I gave you a blog award on my blog:

  4. @Rachel: Ah yes, I hate disruptions. When I write I prefer to lock myself in my own little world. And I agree with the way writers and readers see stories differently. Recently I've been talking to one of my mates about showing vs telling. He thinks it's the worst concept ever invented, and he's adamant that the best story can be told with no showing at all, even though he's a reader. It's basic, yes, but imperative. But he just doesn't get it.

    @Heather: Oh, I get raised eyebrows too. I almost got a counselling booking once from my mum when I told her I had been talking to my characters :P

    @Gracie: Sweeeeeeeeeet :D Thanks!

  5. Non-writers DO NOT understand. My other friends can't figure out why I choose my laptop on a Friday night over hanging out and socializing. To a writer, it makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, only a small percentage fo the population seems driven these days. If more people understood wanting something - whatever that something is - then they would understand how hard creative people work.

  6. After reading this post I decided to follow you. I tried resisting until you started writing about writers AND non-writers. Once you threw up that two-sided coin, I related, contradicted my opinion, and then loved it. Crazy. But just like ya mind is, yet, I like the output. I'll end this with a: this is good and I'm expecting more. (New Follower)

  7. Even if you do a polite tip toe, someone will misunderstand. Nature or nurture, who knows.
    My hubby doesn't get my quirks, but he's my biggest fan and gives me lots of room. Yay hubby.

  8. Thanks all :) Paul, you actually raise a very interesting point. It does seem that fewer people are driven today, fewer people really *want* something. I wonder why? I can't understand it.

  9. I can totally relate to your post. Some people I know and love asked me why I write and what was the point. I was kind of astonished that they actually asked me that. When I tell people the story in my head the are giving a puzzle look and ask me if i smoke weed or something. I their eye i must be a weird one...but you know what...God i love it hihihi!! I feel unique and special.

    Anyway, i really enjoy your blog, it will go straigth to my following list :)


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