One of the best pieces of advice I think I can give, as a writer, is never to admit you write.
The difficulty is that admitting to writing is sometimes provocative. This happens, on my experience, when people validate their self-worth by their ambitions as a writer. By some mechanism this then leads them to view others in the same field as a threat to that validation.
I still recall the moment, some years ago, when a military historian loomed up before me in the Archives New Zealand reading room with balled fists and red face, and demanded to know what book I was writing. I’d never seen the guy before. But he’d recognised me, presumably from my author photo, got angry and stormed across the room to have a go. I thought I was going to be hit, and I think I would have been had I stood up.
I thought, ‘I’m paying this guy’s salary, through my taxes’.
Eventually he went away, shouting to the room in general that he was doing ‘the same as’ me. Actually he wasn’t. For instance, I never stand over strangers and put them in reasonable apprehension of being hit.
A salutary lesson. And good reason for writers to never admit their profession.
Do you ever tell people you write?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014