What Professor McGonagall Taught Me

I am a writer. The statement should make me feel proud. Yet, every time I am asked what I like to do, I always find myself hesitating. I finally blurt out, “I like to write!” My confession is met with one of two responses:

  1. “Oh, that’s so cool! What kind of stuff do you write? Can I read it?”
  2. Cue Laughter. Cue cruel and horrible jokes.

A long time ago, I was privileged enough to have only known about the first answer. It was a blessing to my writerly esteem. But yet, I was naïve. I was annoyed when people probed into my work, trying to get me to share it, and give it to them to read. Now, I’d be happy to get asked those questions.

Of late, more often than not, I am met by Option Number Two. People thinking my writing is a joke. That it’s a job for people lower and lesser than them. Nowadays, whenever I think something is cool, I am met with the same response:

[laughter] “Oh, you should write a blog post on that!” [everyone else laughs, too]

Excuse me, but I am a writer, thank you very much. Do you like The Fault in Our Stars? John Green is a novelist… Otherwise known as a writer. Do you not like books much? That’s okay. What about movies? Plays? Acting? We bring you all of those things. The person that wrote [insert famous actor here]’s lines? She’s a writer, too.

Yet us, the writers, are shoved in hovels of the lowest confidence, treated like jokes, nerds, things to be made fun of. Any one of us could be the next J.K. Rowling. Any one of us could be the next Steven Spielberg. Or we could be doing whatever it is that those people who mock us think is “cool.” Whatever you do, we are told, being a writer is never cool.

And yet we choose the printed word. The ink on paper. We choose the difficult option.  We know we will be ridiculed. We know we will be questioned looked at, scorned, even. But let me tell you one thing: being kicked around like a person’s plaything, a joke, is very, very hard.

If you’re a writer, maybe you’ll get what I mean. If you’re lucky, you won’t. I hope it stays that way.

If you’re one of those people, I do hope you understand now. If you don’t, I only have this to say to you:

I am a writer, thank you very much. And I am very proud. 

This issue has recently become a huge problem for me, and I want it to stop being a problem for others. When I try to do what I love, people keep making fun of me for it; write a blog post about this, write a blog post about that, maybe even write a novel!  Imagine being in my place. Ridiculed for telling people what you love to do. Maybe you will laugh it off, like I do every time. But it is not “affection” or “tough love.” It hurts, a lot, when someone makes a joke out of something that you hold dear to you. I have been in several situations in which I have been made fun of for wanting to write: people calling it too nerdy or geeky, or just making fun of it for no good reason. I have been driven to the verge of tears before, and, in fact, over it a few times. I’m not a good artist, I’m a mediocre musician, and I just don’t want to act, to list a few things. Writing is one of the few things I am both decent in and love, so please: don’t take that away from me. I know there are a lot of others in the same situation in me. Whenever you hear someone making fun of you, remind yourself: This is what I love. This is what I do. This is what I dream of. Look them in the eye, and tell them: “I’m a writer, thank you very much. And I am very proud.” And if there’s one thing that Professor McGonagall has taught me, it is that “thank you very much” is the end of a conversation.

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16 responses to “What Professor McGonagall Taught Me

  1. I think that the people who laugh when one says they are a “writer” think that WE think we are going to earn JK Rowling money with our first book and they know that it isn’t true. Well, we do, too. We know it’ll require hard work and we may never reach Rowling or Meyer status. But we love what we do and the majority of us writers have other jobs that bring in money and support us. Or we are still in school and keep our sanity by writing. Don’t let them get you down…you are lucky enough to do what you love and are courageous enough to let people know about it! Just keep a list of those negative people and use their first names for characters in your upcoming story 🙂 Also, those kind of people you should see twice…”the first and last time” (if you can, if it’s family or a close friend, be honest and try to make them understand!)

    • Hm… well, I guess I never thought of it that way, partially because I never thought I’d be a J.K. Rowling with my first book (or any book, for that matter). I mean, I’ll always hope I’ll be as good as her, but maybe I won’t get there. 😛

      Haha! 😀 I have a little graphic that says: “BE CAREFUL, OR YOU MAY END UP IN MY NOVEL.” Though I’d feel so bad about it if I did that…

      Yep! I totally agree with that. Unfortunately, many of the people that have caused this feeling HAVE, in fact, been “friends,” most of them older than I am. I guess they don’t really want to listen (I have dropped quite a few hints), and I have a feeling that a lot of people just like to think they’re better than others. And because I’m introverted and don’t like to be rude, they choose me… And because writing just doesn’t seem respectable. 😦 I am lucky enough to have some awesome friends who love to write/create just as much as I do, and they don’t judge me for who I am. 😀 I try to surround myself with those people.

      Thank you for all your support. ❤

  2. Sabrina, When I was in elementary/middle school/high school, I liked to write to the exclusion of all else, and I was definitely laughed at. I did have a group of people who shared my interest in high school and we all ran the literary magazine — but I wasn’t close friends with any of them. My close friends had no interest in my writing … which makes me wonder why I thought they were close friends. 😦

    My oldest daughter is a high school senior, and she is lucky enough to have close bonds with a number of good, good friends who also love to write. I am sure there are still some peers who laugh at her, but what’s great about Gabbey is this: She really doesn’t care what they think.

    I never had her confidence when I was her age. I’m glad she has that armor to wear!

    • Funnily enough, my peers don’t really make fun of me; and the ones who do just need to feel superior to someone (so they choose people who are good at stuff or have interests). I don’t care about these people anyways. Mostly, I feel hurt when family or friends (surprisingly, mostly people older than I am) don’t support me, because I try to be supportive of them and not criticize what they love. It’s also gotten very hurtful when they tell me to “go write a blog post” about everything, and calls it “tough love” or “affection.” I’ve told some of them that one day, I’ll just stop writing and blogging for good, and it hurts me that they laugh at that. (Which is why this whole post came about 😛 )

      I, too, have friends who are writers, artists, and poets, and they all accept me for who I am… even those who aren’t writers/artists/poets. 🙂

      I’m so glad Gabbey has confidence in herself! I don’t openly declare that I love to write, but I think if you search for the hints, it’s obvious enough. 😀

  3. It take real courage to write. Anyone who makes fun of you does not have the guts to create. Putting yourself out there with your words is the most courageous thing ever. Congratulations, writer. Be proud.

  4. I’m so sorry this happens to you 😦 Most people are very judgmental. I guess the benefit for me discovering it in mid-20s is that I was bedbound and the only people I really socialized with were either fanfic writer or fanfic readers XD Although fanfic has a bad reputation with some writers too. I’ve heard writers make fun of it. Sometimes subtle and sometimes not. It bothers me a bit, but not that much. Maybe that’s because I have a fairly negative opinion of fanfic given what happened to me, lol.

    On the plus side, once you are in college there will be more people, and you should be able to find like-minded individuals. Hopefully 🙂 I guess I’m the last person to be saying this considering my fanfic breakdown, but try not to let them get to you. There is nothing wrong with writing whether you do it as a hobby or as a profession.

    I’m not sure if you heard of the Oatmeal. He wrote a comic about what it’s like to write for the internet: He addresses the part about trying to explain his job along with other things, like dealing with negative commentary: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things

    I think anyone that writes should read this. It made me feel better about several aspects of writing. If nothing else I hope it makes you smile 😀 If you like that one, he does a really cute one about dogs: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/dog_paradox Friend A and I reference it often because she has a dog, lol.

    • Well, I think you dealt with your fanfiction problems very well. I would have probably quit, and the decision to leave was probably the best you could have done. I know fanfiction is looked down-upon, but I think that there are some pretty good fanfiction writers. I don’t think it’s the highest form of fiction, either, given what happened to you. I used to be on fanfiction for quite a while when I was younger, writing fiction for the Warriors series, which I used to love. (Not providing a link here because it’s embarrassing.)

      Yep! I want to get some sort of degree in Creative Writing, or at least go to a workshop when I’m in college, even though I want to be a veterinarian. I’m proud of my writing, and the fact that I create things, but it just hurts me a lot when other people attack that little Happy Place I have. It happens fairly often, but when it happens too much, I turn to this blog. You guys are truly the best. ❤

      I have heard of The Oatmeal! 😀 I didn't know he wrote a comic for writers, but I love his dog comic. It perfectly describes my dog. 😛 I'm going to go and check the one on writing out right now. 😀 (Wow that's confusing to read…)

      Thanks for all the support ❤

  5. I am so sorry that you had to experience this, specially from elders and family friends who are primarily responsible for bolstering your confidence and self esteem. What it is, is a classic example of mediocrity mocking excellence to experience an exhilarating moment of self- indulgence. In reality, its just a manifestation of their ignorance and low self esteem. Growing up, I experienced similar situations all my life as I was asthmatic and I could not participate in sports like other boys of my age. Instead I took to art and music to channelize my feelings. To make things worse, I was on steroids and I was fat. And then one day I had an eplipheny – if someone is taunting / belittling me, it must mean that I am better or smarter than him or her in some manner. Well if that is true I should be happy and as they say “more the merrier”. That was my coping mechanism, hope you find yours too. Keep writing.

    • Well, I think the main problem is that it hurts me when people who are close to me engage in this sort of behavior. I believe that we are close because they care about me, but mocking me just shows that this is untrue.

    • Thanks, Teresa! I’m most definitely NOT going to drop writing just because some people look down on me for it! I love Professor McGonagall; J.K. Rowling certainly does have skill with characters! 😀

  6. I get the same responses when I tell people I’m a writer so most of the time I don’t. When they ask what I do, I say I’m a stay-at-home mom and I write. They only ever care about the first part of the answer and respond to it and that’s fine. It embarrasses me when they draw attention to the writing bit because then they always ask to see my work and I’m seriously skittish about that. I’m worried they’ll read it and not like it. I’ve gotten both good and bad reviews so I should be used to it by now but I’m not. I push myself to say I’m a writer and that I write in the hopes that it’ll get easier but I think it never will unless it pays the bills…which it might never if I’m going to be realistic. Still, I’m only ever comfortable talking about my writing with my family. Even friends will make me feel skittish.

    • Since I’m supposedly a identity-crisis-conflicted teen, I sort of DO want to tell people I like to write, because it’s basically all I do in my free time, and it’d be a lie to say I didn’t (or a while lie to say nothing at all). So I do get reasonably upset when people insult that. (Yet they like to read?? PARADOX RIGHT THERE. *points loudly with a finger like a rude stereotypical American*)
      I also don’t want to run away from telling people things, and I don’t want to be afraid to tell people who I am, or express myself.
      I’m only not skittish around my writer friends, who I met online through blogging, or through NaNo. I only have one writer friend IRL, and my mom. 😦
      I don’t want to run from it any more. I’m a naturally quiet introvert, and my one moment to shine through communication is my writing… and so it means a lot to me when I express that and it’s just shot down.

      • I can see that it would. You’re brave for shooting it out there for people to shoot down. Either you’ll get braver and more comfortable for it later in life or you’ll go nutty. 😉 Nutty can be pretty fun though.

  7. Pingback: Quarterly Rewind, Summer 2014 – Books, College, OneRepublic, And More! | Musings From Neville's Navel·

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