Agent Nathan Bransford is a nice guy and an excellent blogger.* But on Tuesday, Nathan posted a blog entry about how people who assume the "identity" of a writer are, in his words, on "a dangerous road."
With all due respect to Nathan,** I just have to say this:
Now, I understand that Nathan probably spends a great deal of his time dealing with the whackdoodles of the writing world. You know the ones--those women who introduce themselves at dinner parties by whipping out purple business cards with quill pens embossed on them and "AUTHOR" in big letters under the name. The tortured artist dude at the Starbucks*** who just happens to mention to the cashier that the book is going really well (or really horribly) every time he gets up to get his cheap refill. The guy who gets indignant at the open writer's group when someone suggests that having his science fiction novel set on the imaginary planet of Labia maybe isn't the greatest idea. Like I said...whackdoodles. And part of Nathan's job is to turn these people down? Have fun with that, dude.
In fact, he addresses that issue, when he says this:
I hear from these people all the time. They're the ones who start spamming agents, who write me angry e-mails, and who go on tirades about the publishing process. They've stopped enjoying the writing process, and because writing is so wrapped up in their self-conception, they can't bear the pain of rejection and instead look outward for blame.I understand his frustration. I do.
But I think he's confusing people who have Issues with people who identify as writers, and those are not the same things at all. About 99% of the writers I have met either online or in Real Life are totally normal people. They will tell you, when you ask them what they do, that they are writers. They are. Some of them are published, some of them are not. Some of them have day jobs. Some of them do not. Some of them are famous(ish), some of them are not. But they are all writers. That is their identity.
The difference between them and the people Nathan means to complain about is that those writers don't have Issues. What Nathan seems to be saying in his subsequent comments and edits to the post is that people who put all their eggs of happiness in the writing-for-publication basket tend to be the ones who have a freak out when an agent says "not for me." So he's suggesting maybe keep some eggs in the "family/pet/hobby" basket, or another basket of your choosing. Which is good advice, as far as it goes.
But don't diss "writer" as an identity, Bransford, or we'll have to have some words.
* And, from what I hear, a fine agent. He is not my agent, as I am represented by the divine Agent Ted, but nobody's perfect.
** And there's a lot due him.
*** And where did they hang out before there were Starbucks, by the way? Just any old off-brand coffee house?