Writerphobia = Homophobia?

When I originally started this blog five months ago, I planned on using it as a way to share my experience of living in working in Korea. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out, and while most people in my shoes would have thought, “Welp, guess there’s no reason to have a blog since my original subject matter just went poof!” and deleted all their content, I decided to keep the blog alive.

Why?

Not for any profound reasons like wanting a soapbox to get onto and spread a message I think is important or even a selfish reason like trying to get lots of traffic so I can plaster ads everywhere and CASH IN on the eyeballs who want to hear what I’ve transferred from my cartoon brain and into your screen.

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(“Ah yes, blogger, that is indeed a respectable profession with competitive benefits.”)

No. I keep the blog going because I enjoy it and so do the people who read it. And to be honest, I’m surprised I’m blogging as well, because I’m a private person who’s sensitive to negative feedback. Also, my background isn’t in essays or journalism (which is blogging’s closest cousins), but in writing fictional stuff.

Now that’s something I do want to “cash in” on; I’ve written a couple of full-length novels in the past eight years, and my latest is currently going through developmental editing. There’s a whole back and forth process with the editor, and it can take months to really get something tight, depending on a number of factors.

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(Factors like if a new version of Grand Theft Auto just came out. How can I edit when THIS is my other option? Just kidding. #mimelivesmatter)

Unfortunately, I don’t live in some cave away from civilization, and I’m not a misanthrope (at least not after I’ve had my morning coffee). I live in the real world with real people who notice that I’ve been writing for years, but still haven’t gotten my “big break yet.”

It doesn’t bother me, because I’ve got the patience of a Buddhist monk, but if you’ve been following the blog it shouldn’t surprise you that I come from a culture that doesn’t take kindly to someone locking themselves in the comfort of their room and pecking away at a keyboard in their pajamas for hours on end. And then having the stones to call it work!

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(“Work Inspector here. Let’s see…I’ve found zero hard hats, zero hammers, and not a SINGLE nail. That’s it. Shut it down!”)

Over the past eight years, there has been a bit of tension and unease when I socialize, whether it’s with my family, certain friends, or with new people I’m meeting. Negative social pressure (I guess you’d call it) over the way I choose to spend my time when I’m not working.

Now mind you, I almost NEVER bring up any writing I’m doing in normal conversation unless I’m asked directly about it. Not about my novel or this blog. Not even commenting on the writing process when people are critiquing a movie or TV show. Nothing.

Half of my reasons for silence is because I feel that artists (musicians, writers, painters, etc.) who SUCK are insecure and are always trying to “sell themselves” by announcing what they do every chance they get or by being really pretentious, snooty, or worse, just plain RELENTLESS in their pursuit to claim the identity of “Artist With A Higher Calling.”

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(“They called me a fool for spending six figures at the Pratt Institute. Well guess who’s laughing now!”)

The other half is that I get a strong list of OBJECTIONS to my “choice” of being a writer. But after doing this for eight years (my writing anniversary just passed on March 2, and no that is not a “thing” that writers talk about) I do wonder if it was a “choice” at all.

Let me explain.

My brain is wired in a certain way that predisposes me to writing: I’m efficient with my use of language and communication, I can tolerate long periods of solitude, I think deeply about things, and I try to repackage and express ideas in more easily consumable ways.

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(I’d throw in that I’m introverted, but people confuse that with “pedophile” so…moving on.)

Unfortunately I get a lot of flak for the way I’ve been born (if you will allow me to make that argument) and recently I was chewed out by a bunch of folks in a very short period of time when I was at a VERY vulnerable point. As I tossed and turned in bed at night, I tried thinking of some way to communicate that it’s not right for them to criticize something they don’t know anything about, and also that if someone’s lifestyle isn’t hurting them, they shouldn’t judge.

That’s when it hit me:

“What if I was GAY and people said these sorts of things to me?”

It was then I realized I could take any of the discouragements I’ve been hearing for the past eight years and TWIST THEM into a homosexual version. So today we’re going to run down a couple of common objections that not just aspiring writers, but all artists hear, and with the magic of analogies, make a gay version so you can see that certain types of communication can be hurtful, even if your intentions are sincere.

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(“All of your objections are about to be…vaporized.”)

Let the fun begin, starting with:

Objection 1: “Hey listen, if you want to write on your little laptop with your little notepad and little pencil that’s fine. Being a successful writer is a nice dream: you can wake up whenever you want, make your own schedule, and you don’t have to work in a place with angry customers screaming at you all day. I get it. But…you gotta be realistic here. What if you never get that big check? That’s why you should have a backup plan. Why not head down the employment agency? I’m sure they’ll fix you up! Forget about that writing stuff!”

Gay version: “Hey listen, if you want to go out and kiss dudes that’s fine. Being with a guy is a nice dream: you don’t have to worry about accidentally getting him pregnant, he can help you with the heavy lifting around the house, and his big paycheck is sure to finance lots of fun adventures. I get it. But…you gotta be realistic, here. What if the man of your dreams never comes along? That’s why you should always have a backup plan. Why not date Bonnie from up the block? She’s single! Forget about these men!”

My rebuttal: This is the old “What about a Plan B?” argument and to be honest, I’ve never been a fan. First of all, Will Smith has gone on record to say “The first step before anybody else in the world believes it is you have to believe it. There’s no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A.” In other words, if you’re going to something ambitious / time-consuming, go all out. Don’t dabble. I run into dabblers all the time with this stuff: at school, online, conferences, and anywhere else writers gather. If you’re someone who doesn’t view writing as their number one priority, please do everyone a favor and quit.

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(Exactly right! Why are you torturing yourself to keep going if you suck?)

Objection 2: “I was watching the show Shark Tank while making a list of all the houses my company is foreclosing on, and one of the “sharks” said he gives a business 3 years to become profitable. So if you’ve been writing for 3 years and haven’t made any money, just pack it up. Now THAT’S good business sense!”

Gay Version: “I was watching Boy meets Boy while making a list of potential topics for this week’s sermon and the leading man said that if he’s with a guy a couple of years and it doesn’t work, he’s OUT. So if you’ve been dating a bunch of different guys and after three years haven’t found the guy who’s your soul mate, then pack it up and start dating females. Now THAT’S good dating sense!”

My Rebuttal: Big goals take big time. I’ve talked before about embracing a long term mentality and that comes into play here. Three years? Are you serious? Perhaps when you’re in a position to shuffle money around and EXPERIMENT with businesses this is applicable, but it really doesn’t apply to building a SKILL SET. The skill set for the writer is stuff like artfully weaving hundreds of nuanced pieces (character development, plot, conflict, motivation, etc.) into something fit for mass consumption. The skill set for the gay person (oh who are we kidding, this applies to anyone of ANY sexual orientation) is the trial and error process of meeting someone, spending lots of time with them, and seeing if you can build a life together, all the while learning more about yourself and how to communicate with potential mates.

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(With many years of practice you too will have the confidence to broadcast this across a crowded room to a stranger, grasshopper.)

Objection 3: “So you avoid working 60 hours a week so you’ll have time to write, huh? WELL! I guess you’re just not interested in the FINER THINGS in life. I’m talking fancy cars and private jets to Europe, here! Still no? Come along Heidi and Kennedy, our Maybach limousine is waiting to take us back to our Upper East Side palace.

Gay Version: “So like…you avoid partying with hot chicks because you want to sip mimosas with some DUDE in a pink collared shirt and a pencil-thin moose-tash? BRO! I guess you’re not interested in the FINER THINGS in life. I’m talking about a biological son and his mother as your wife! Still no? Aww…c’mon Tanner and Blake, my divorced uncle is waiting in his General Lee replica to take us back to the frat house.

My Rebuttal: Everybody wants the finer things in life. Whether it’s fancy cars, a nice house, or a loving family. Or all of the above! But some people’s paths are different. This may come as a shock to your system (so I hope you’re sitting down while you read this on your phone) but there are people in life who *wait for it* actually want DIFFERENT THINGS than you do. They may take the fancy car if it comes their way, but if the choice is the Mercedes-Benz as a result of working too much to write OR an economy car as a result of working a 9-5 so they can write than they’ll pick the ol’ beater because it’s more in alignment with their goals. Same with the homosexual. A traditional family would certainly please mom and pop, but if it’s at the cost of smothering the person they really are, then the answer is a big fat NOPE.

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(As if you could SMOTHER this much gayness. He looks like a dancing pastry!)

Objection 4: When I’m not dressing up my cats in Victorian era costumes and playing Murder Mystery games with them, I watch all of those talent shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Toddlers in Tiaras. Watching those shows has made a Ph.D. in Statistics appear in my hands, so after hearing about you wanting to be a writer, my expert opinion says no, because the chances of making it are one in a million!

Gay Version: When I’m not ironing my collection of vintage Ku Klux Klan outfits or hunting with my brother Gator, I watch shows like Rock of Love, The Bachelor, and A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. Baby Jesus has access to my DVR archive, so a Psychology diploma fell from the heavens into my lap, and after hearing about you wanting to quit women, my expert opinion says no, because the chances of you finding a guy who’s not only gay, but willing to marry you are one in a million!

My Rebuttal: We are not playing the lottery here. Writers don’t submit manuscripts (or screenplays, proposals, etc.) to agents who gather them in a big pile, blindfold themselves, take a shot, spin around five times, and then pick one at random. Again, the laypeople who make these arguments / offer advice shouldn’t do so because they have a fundamental MISUNDERSTANDING of how the business works.

Is there luck involved? Sure. Just as there’s luck in finding your spouse and luck in landing a good paying job, even when you’re qualified. But that doesn’t mean the chances are “one in a million” and it definitely doesn’t mean that with practice you can tilt the odds in your favor.

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(And it is my sincerest hope that the odds be EVER in your favor.)

Objection 5: Even though I valet cars for a living and the last book I read was Clifford the Big Red Dog Goes Whale Watching, I know exactly what it takes to write a successful novel. I know how long it takes, the practices involved, and a writer’s limits when it comes to pumping out words. So in my expert opinion, here’s what you should do: work your day job and do your writing ON THE SIDE. Just squeeze it in when you’ve got a chance. Like…the weekends! You can finish a 400 page novel by just writing two days a week, right?

Gay Version: Even though I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 25 years and we have 3 kids, I totally understand where you’re coming from, so here’s my advice: spend most of your time dating women, and just pack fudge ON THE SIDE. Just squeeze it in when you’ve got the chance. Like…the weekends! You can have a healthy homosexual relationship with a man you see just two days a week, right?

My Rebuttal: I saved this one for last because it’s the only one that holds water. If you’re not born to rich parents or you’re not a housewife / househusband, then most likely your only option is to work full time then write when you come home after work. Ditto for weekends and when you have vacation days. But my issue is the way people dispense this advice. When they do so, they TRIVIALIZE what you’re trying to do: visiting pop pop at the nursing home is something you do “on the side;” writing a novel is one of those HUGE projects that typically take a year to complete…at least when done properly.

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 (Or you’re the drug abuser in THIS ridiculous movie.)

I stuck with the five universal objections in the interest of space and also because I’m trying to cement my analogy, which is that in modern American society it’s taboo to call out a homosexual to their face, but people today have no problem doing it to writers (or artistic types) that are either young or experienced but without huge commercial success.

I’ve also got a whole BUNCH more I’ll rattle off, like:

-“But I don’t see you hunched over the computer every single day, typing away for eight hours straight without coming up for air.” (Yes, because I’m not writing code; this is a delicate process and much be approached as such).

-“Well, if you do get a book deal, what about afterwards? Then WHAT?” (Writers write. If I had difficulty producing content, if it was torturous and not fun, I’d go into something else.)

-“Oh, you’re nineteen and you’ve got three chapters of a book done? Give to Oprah!” (Um…Oprah and I aren’t exactly besties who carpool to the spa every weekend. Plus, the types of books she promotes are very specific in their genre and subject matter.)

-“You need to get your life together.” (Who freakin’ DOESN’T need to get their life together? I’m 27 and I can count the number of people I’ve met who “have their life together” on one hand.)

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(“What a beautiful day. I think I’ll start looking at timeshares in the Caribbean.”)

That’s all I have to say for now. I know that the analogy of this post might be a bit contentious for some because I’m not gay myself, and sure, anyone can argue that I don’t know what it’s like, but either way the subject here is persecution. I’m trying to get at what I said in the beginning: If someone has a certain lifestyle you don’t agree with and it’s not hurting you, just shut your mouth. They have a hard enough time being different without you shoveling crap in their face and making them insecure.

Now with that done, here’s the part where I USUALLY urge you to do stuff like post a comment or subscribe, and while I welcome your input as always, you might not want to subscribe just this week.

Why?

Because the next post may cut a little too deep for some readers. It lays down some HARSH truths about how people live their day to day lives and people who may be a bit insecure about choices they’ve made might question themselves, which is always uncomfortable.

But that’ll be on April 4.

See you then.

…Or not. Be careful.

J. F. Seegitz

P.S. My editor redesigned his site recently, so he reached out to me for a testimonial quote. Needless to say, I JUMPED at the idea.

MICHAEL MOHR TESTIMONIAL JF SEEGITZ

(You can check out his full site here.)

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