Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dealing with Negativity

When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them, "A rockstar." That's how I said it, too: "rockstar" - one word - not "musician," not "artist," not "celebrity" or "songwriter" or "performer." I wanted to be a rockstar.

When I got a little older, no one called it "rockstar" anymore. By then, I would tell them I wanted to be a musician or artist. But regardless of what I called it, the response was always the same, "Yeah, but what do you really want to do?" In other words, they were saying I would never make it in the music business, so what would I settle for. I always responded the same, "I said [rockstar, artist, musician, whatever]."

And I did exactly that. I had a lot of wild sex with really hot people, I did a lot of drugs, played music in some cool places, met a bunch of great musicians and famous people; the only thing that separates my being an "artist" from being a "rockstar" is the fame. And by the time I got old enough to truly understand that whole concept, I knew I didn't want fame.

But this is a real, and terrible, thing in all entertainment fields. Unless you live in LA or your name is on the cover of a book, when you tell people you want to be a writer or a musician or a comic book artist, it's always the non-plussed, "Yeah, but what are you really going to do?" And it hurts, sometimes.

I have my own website of which I am very proud (even though I have yet to get any real content on it), I run several blogs of which I am proud, and I make money doing these things. You aren't likely to see me on The View tomorrow (or really ever, as far as The View goes) and I'm not dating Paris Hilton, but I really am a writer and a webmaster and an artist of the highest caliber. And when people give that non-plussed response with the roll of their eyes, I usually have to refrain myself from asking what they do, because the dialogue would go something like this:

MD: So what do you do?
Jackass: I'm a plumber.
MD: Wow, nice job. Ha, ha. What did the school smell like? I mean, how hard can that be? Shit rolls downhill, right? Look! Now I'm a plumber, too, jackass.

You have to realize that, when most people react like this, they really are just jealous. It really is like your mama told you about bullies because what they are doing really is a kind of bullying. They rolled over, sold out, and gave up on their dreams, and when you happen to do something they once aspired to or think of in reverential tones, they feel an instinctive need to "bring you back down to size."

Some people (the truly jealous: other aspiring writers) will ask, "Have you been published?" And the really jealous (other writers: losers) will crack back, "You in The Guild?" It does not matter if you have ever been published, if you have ever been paid, if you belong to the WGA or the SWG or the PMS; if you get up day after day and write - as a job, when you're not on your job, whatever, whenever - you are a writer.

Don't buy into it. So what if this person thinks you're a dreamer or flat-out lying to them or whatever the hell they happen to think? You know you are a writer and that's what counts and that's what you need to remind yourself of, whenever you encounter one of these awful people.

And if you have been online for more than six months, you already know that these encounters happen on at least a weekly basis.

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