• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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I Hate Myself For Loving You

Okay — I’m not going to pretend that I’m not thoroughly moved by the hilarious and painful responses that have flooded my inbox all day. Were you to have seen me anywhere today, at the butcher, the gym, Executive Cleaners, St. Dunkin’s, you would have seen a girl with her head in a prayer-like position reading her Blackberry, blown away by the comments coming in.

Am I nuts or is there a  book here?  A collection of  hurtful comments that writers are subjected to that also defines in some essential way the core struggles of being a writer: no one caring, no one waiting, being exposed, being suspect, being trivialized, or worse, being a dime a dozen.

I know I identified with almost every comment.  We could call it THE BOY WILL COME TO NOTHING (a quote from Kafka’s famously cruel and discouraging father) and I would organize the book into five sections, insults from: parents, friends, siblings & other relatives, random people at cocktail parties & other gatherings, and (probably the worst) insults from other writers.

Then,  I’d look for a top drawer agent to represent the project who was known to be fearsome and intellectually rigorous, gracious to a fault, fun and pretty. Oh, that was easy.  And then I’d try to sell it to a really fun publisher who does great packaging with books like these such as Workman, or Chronicle, or Running Press.

Does anyone else see a book here? Could we scare up another 100 comments? I would donate all the money to literacy or a good cause we could all get behind.

As my brilliant client and mega-blogger Heather Armstrong (Dooce.com) says: it’s time to monetize the hate.

24 Responses

  1. Love that idea!

    I have been checking back all day to read the comments as well and cringed, got angry and laughed at so many. It would be a great book.

  2. It’s the kind of book I’d be reading under the covers when I needed a crumb of hope and smidgen of solidarity – do it.

  3. I can see such a book.

    It is a way of helping us all to reconsider the words that hurt us. And maybe, if we can, be rid of them, by turning the tables on those who mock and belittle us.

  4. I would be a best seller among writers in all genres, walks of life, published or not. We’d laugh and maybe cry.

    I would carry it with me!

  5. I don’t know if it would dilute the focus, but you might also consider actors, painters, photographers, musicians …

    Either way, I was also glued to your blog yesterday.

  6. Go for it…we all have lots of material

    ….when I told my father I’d written a book, he said: “A book! YOU wrote a book. Come in the back room and I’ll show what a real book looks like. I’m paying this great agent to get it published for me.” Oh, Daddy, black footed Daddy, I’m not going to let in on the secret; you’re being screwed, royally up the ass.

    Anyone who has been writing for more than a year can give you some material.

  7. No, no. Just writers! Let’s not dilute the wealth of material we have on our own.

  8. The nut kernal here is support, what it is, isn’t and needs to be to sustain creative work, the work no one values and no one asks for until it manifests on its own.

    Consider the old folk tale, “The Little Red Hen,” and her refrain, “who will help me bake the bread?” No one. But plenty want to eat it when the loaf is hot out of the oven.

  9. It’s a great book idea. Keep it about writers, but blurr the edges of what a “writer” is: include writers who draw. A writer-illustrator is a two-fer in the shit eating contest that is The Creative Life.

  10. Oh yes, I think it would be great. Please do it!

  11. Great Idea, Betsy.
    My first negative comment regarding my writing came way back in my college days (I was an English major).

    When I conferenced with an English Professor, regarding a paper I had written the first thing he said was, “You’re not an English Major, are you?”

    When I told him I was, he looked away and said, “Oh.”

    Twenty six years ago and its one of the few things I remember about conferences with my professors.

  12. I would *love* such a book. Yes, it’s a great idea! Donating to literacy is an even better one.

  13. Remarks like these are what ultimately force writers to choose from one of three props: a suit of armor, a fifth of scotch or a noose.

    A book is clearly in order. Surely you’ll need someone else to edit this collection as you’re busy entertaining all the publishing offers. Hmm, I happen to know a writer…

  14. Excellent idea Betsy. Seriously. I would love to BUY and READ that book. I’m blown away by all of these assholes that surround us.

  15. I like the book idea and have really enjoyed reading all the comments. Thanks for the great work Betsy!

    Here are a couple more for you:

    1. When I was about 7 or 8, my dad took my journal so that he could read it and, surprised and amused by what he found written there, proceeded to read several entries aloud to the family. He laughed uproariously as he read and, at the end, said to my four younger siblings that this was why I didn’t talk much: if he were having thoughts as stupid as these, he would keep them to himself too.

    2. At a New York publishing party, one of the writerly acquaintances I’d just met turned to me and said, “Oh, do you write too?” And before I could answer, my friend who I’d gone there with said, “Yes. She writes erotica.” Not true, and said for the sole purpose of embarrassing me in front of the group.

    But I think it’s also worth saying (apologies for the length) that I’ve been fortunate and there have been *almost* enough supportive, encouraging comments to offset the terrible, demeaning ones. A writer I had long admired and eventually became friends with once said something I’ll never forget: “Maybe you don’t want to be a writer. But maybe you do, and if that’s the case you probably should. It’s quite obvious you have a good hat for it.”

    • Your first example, to me, wins the #1 spot for showcasing The Most Evil Bastard in this whole string of comments from yesterday’s and today’s posts.

      But I have to say that the erotica comment in your second example made me laugh, actually. And sounded like something I might say about Betsy if I were introducing her to some of my friends at a pub or in my backyard.

  16. A lovely idea! I would purchase such a book, especially if the money went to charity.

    It was a fabulous post and response yesterday. Awesome people read this blog.

  17. An awesome person writes this blog.

  18. Oh please do write another book. I love your writing. “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” When can we expect to find it on shelves?

  19. Yes! We can gift the book to those dearest to us. We’ll be sure to point out what page their most memorable quote is on – so it’ll feel more special. Of course, some of these clowns will boast that they made it into print before us. But it’ll be worth it.

    Great idea.

  20. […] to share their own doozies in the comments. The 80+ responses prompted her to follow up with I Hate Myself for Loving You. Don’t miss a word—or comment—from either blog […]

  21. When I was an intern at my first newspaper job, I wrote a story that prompted an editor to say it reminded her of Tom Wolfe. How odd, I thought. I couldn’t see it myself, but the editor was enthusiastic and put the story on the front page. Later, I told a friend: something weird happened at work, and I told her the story. She and I were on her deck at the time, and then her phone rang and she went inside. I waited and waited, and then I went in to get something and heard the most mortifying thing I’ve ever heard in my life. My friend, on the phone, saying: “She thinks she’s Tom Wolfe, can you believe it?” It was so mocking and mean, and so twistedly wrong, I died a thousand deaths. This is why I believe it’s never smart to volunteer to anyone, “My book got a good review.” She’ll turn and tell someone, “Guess who’s bragging again.”

  22. I’m fortunate that my immediate family has been so supportive of my fiction writing (they work in creative fields, so that probably helps a bit).

    But not long ago, I had a strange run-in with my brother-in-law, a published non-fiction author. My husband sent him a link to an online zine that had published a short story of mine. He called me up and had this awkward conversation:
    Brother-in-law: “I’ve got some feedback I wanted to give you on your story.”
    Me: “Well, it is published, so I can’t make any changes to it.”
    Brother-in-law: “Oh.”
    Me: “So, do you read a lot of short stories?”
    Brother-in-law: “The last one I read was in high school.” (Note: Brother-in-law is nearly 50 years old.)

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