The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, August 18, 2006

I Am So Not Sorry

by Melissa Bell

Today, I wish to write about my writing friends. It's a tough self-assigned assignment, because the last thing I want to do is expose, unintentionally, anybody's feelings or betray any confidences. But I think it might just be something that many real writers I know might identify with, so I'm going to risk getting all maudlin (perhaps) and sentimental (maybe) and trust that the truth will set me (and them, and maybe, you) free. And maybe alleviate (or validate) some pain along the way. Again, it's Friday, so if what I'm expressing here is shite, the weekend is nigh, and things can only get better.

I'm a lucky gal. While I don't socialize with a bunch of writers on a regular basis, the ones that I do get to hang with when we have some rare hang-out time are truly awesome in terms of their talent. And they're great people. Really. Generous to a fault. Gracious. Shimmering. Warm. Funny. No, not funny – make that brilliantly funny. When I'm in their presence, it is a spiritually humbling experience. My writer pals have taught me so much. Not about writing. But just about being good people. I wish I could say I've put their teachings into practice, but they make me aware of what I yearn to be and where I need to go.

You, you who are reading this right now, you might be one of them. Can I tell you I love you without being considered a weirdo? Probably not. And so I won't.

But could you please do me a favour?

Could you please, please stop considering your work shit?

Your writing is wonderful. It's what made me want to get to know you better as a person. And then when I actually made contact, whether by e-mail, or phone, or for a quick beer in a bar, I knew from your first paragraph that I had found a friend. I want to forward your work electronically during my downtime in the office, or photocopy the heck out of it and post it in the lunch room, and brag to my co-workers that Look! I know this person! See what they can do? Aren't they fantastic?

And yet I don't do this. Because, on some level, I really don't know if that would be the right thing to do. Not because the audience of readers would not enjoy what you have to offer (quite the contrary), but because I don't think you'd want me to do that.

It's so gosh darn silly. And it breaks my heart.

And then there are the Others. The ones who have no desire to do the work necessary to be good, to be great, but expect unconditional approval simply because they have decided to put something on a page at one time and feel entitled to the designation of "writer". How can some things be so out of whack?

I know it's not just about people who write. It's some kind of weird syndrome amongst those of the artistic bent. Of course there have been, and will always be, exceptions. Frank Lloyd Wright was a great architect, and boy, would he let you and everyone else know it. Picasso did not shuffle off his mortal coil choking on a slice of humble pie.

And so you, my dear writer friend(s) – I don't expect you to drop your writing credits into our conversations the way Hansel dropped breadcrumbs from his pocket. I've Googled you. I've read you. You're damn good. Awfully damn good.

So please stop apologizing for your work when I tell you how much I love it. You make me feel like an idiot, and I know that's not your intention. Your ass really does not look fat in those pants. But you might consider getting the hair out of your eyes. Quit trying to hide. It's not working. You're fucking good.

I beg of you: Let me tell me I love you and don't say something that makes me feel like a jack-ass for doing so. You're not obligated to love me back, dear god, no! Yes, I'm a tad misty – forgive me, please, it's a thing that happens when I experience beautiful things. I'm a big fat sap and an embarrassment to myself, and if you really sucked at what you do, this wouldn't be happening, so don't blame me. You did this. Deal with it. Another half-pint and a simple "Thank you" will be just fine, and then we can talk about other things.

Except hockey. I hate hockey.


Blogger Patricia said...

you are the best honey, you are....I love this, we all need to listen to this and pay attention, we are good damnit all!!! We are!! I mean, I am..kind of...lololol...however, I do like hocky, somewhat...a bit...a tad...okay, I'm a fanatic!

Fri Aug 18, 02:07:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Honesty is hard enough when it's negative. But honesty about postive feelings is really frowned upon, so it takes guts! You MelBel are my Ms Guts this week! I read your post with intense feelings shivering up and down my spine, for many reasons. Thank YOU, for your great writing, here and there and everywhere.

Fri Aug 18, 02:21:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

What a good friend you must be. Next time I'm in Toronto, I'll buy you a beer. We can tell each other how good we are.

Fri Aug 18, 04:45:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger brendan said...

What a great post. I was looking for something completely different but came across this, and this blog, and i think it's great. i think it's better than great. what do i do to become a canadian writers collectivist? i don't have much to offer in trade, besides my fictional collection of buttons from around the world. any takers?

Fri Aug 18, 05:15:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Why not hockey? If you love me so much, and I want to talk about hockey, why can't we talk about hockey?

I'm all happy now and headed out to get totally smashed!

Sat Aug 19, 11:42:00 pm GMT-4  

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