In my last post, I wrote about how some writers annoy me with their tendency to speak only about themselves. This, unfortunately, isn’t the only thing that annoys me about some writers I have met. I promise that this will be my last moan, whine and act of bad-mouthing other writers. Well, for this year at least. You see, the other gripe I have about some writers is their inability to be nice about other writers. They clearly weren’t listening when their mothers told them, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone then say nothing at all.” Probably too busy talking about themselves to hear Dear Old Mum.
This inability to be nice seems to manifest itself in two ways. Firstly, in the inability to admit that they might even, just a tiny bit, like another writer’s work. I’ll see a play or listen to a piece read at an Open Mic night and express my admiration of it and all I’ll hear in reply is, “It was alright.” To start with, I thought this was just me. That, perhaps, my tastes were a little different to everyone elses’. I mean, when you hear “It was alright” a dozen or so times, you do start to wonder. However, I soon saw the real way of things when I went to see a play and sat next to someone who was laughing along heartily with me (luckily, it was a comedy) and then afterwards said, “It was alright.” It’s almost as if these people feel that by liking someone elses’ work it takes away from what they do. I don’t understand that at all. If you like something, say so. It’s good to like. It puts a smile on your face instead of making you look like a bulldog chewing a wasp.
The second way the inability to be nice raises its head is in the inability to be pleased for other writers’ successes. I recently had to sit behind two older male writers (who I didn’t know) who were talking about a third male writer (who I also didn’t know). Now, what they were saying was really none of my business but we were all crammed so tightly into an Open Mic night that it was impossible for me not to hear them. Also, I like listening to other people’s conversations as they are usually much more interesting than mine. On this occasion, however, I wish I hadn’t bothered. All these two writers did was bad mouth this poor third chap in a nasty, snide, passive-aggressive way. It would have been better if they had just been honest and said, “I’m so bloody jealous that John (not his real name, or it might have been as I didn’t catch it) has got his book published. It should have been me!” But they didn’t. Instead they said things like, “Well, it isn’t very original” and “I won’t be reading it as I only read things I like”, which begs the question, “How the hell do you know it’s not very original then?” I would have liked to have said this and much else besides but, unfortunately, I couldn’t. This is the downside to listening into other people’s conversations.