The last moan

"I don't know why she thinks she's so special. "
“I don’t know why she thinks she’s so special. “

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.

Use your ears, not your mouth!

Stop talking!
Stop talking!

I have a confession to make. Many of you may not like it but it’s something I have to say. It’s something I have to get off my chest. Ok, are you ready? I don’t always like other writers. Perhaps I should be more clear. I know and have met quite a lot of writers over the past year. For the most part, I do like them. It’s just when they start talking about their work that my hackles go up and my tolerance levels go down.

You see, many of the writers I have met wax lyrical about their word-craft as if they are the only person in the world who picks up a pen and creates something. They talk at great length about themselves and their achievements. They talk over one another without listening at all to what any other person is saying. They are not interested at all in what anyone else is saying. If it’s not about them, it is meaningless.

I gave up trying to have a conversation with these writers a long time ago. What’s the point?To participate, I’d have to do what they do and that’s not me at all.  I don’t like to talk about my own achievements (small as they are) as I feel uncomfortable blowing my own trumpet. Nobody likes a big-head. And they are not having a conversation anyway. A conversation is where you ask questions and listen to the answers in order to find out more about people and the world at large. Which leads onto another question. How can you be a writer if you don’t listen and observe?

One of these writers recently said to me, “I feel I have a lot to say.” Well, don’t we all? Everyone has something to say. And these writers would know this if they just stopped talking and listened.