If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers
Last week, writer and tweeter extraordinaire Elizabeth McCracken tweeted this:
21 years into a publishing career & I still have no idea what to say when someone says, "A writer? Have I heard of anything you've written?"
There is something unique about the way people talk to writers. Strangers seem very willing to offer career advice — “self-publishing is where the money is!” — literary advice — “People love vampires!” — or to oddly ask you to guess what work they’ve read in their life and if any of yours is among it. It got me thinking about what it would be like it people talked about other professions in this way.
“Ah, a middle school teacher? Have I met any of the students you’ve ever taught?”
“Cool, I always wanted to be a car salesmen. Maybe when I retire I’ll settle down and just work on selling that Buick I’ve had in my head for years.”
“Huh. A chef. Do people still eat food?”
“An accountant? Wow, I haven’t even looked at a number since high school.”
“You own a hardware shop? Nice! Do you sell tools with wood handles? People love wood handles, you should really sell tools with those.”
“So Chet tells me you’re a bartender. Would I have tasted any of the drinks you make?”
“News anchor? Okay here’s a news story I’ve been thinking about for years: the vice president slips into a vat of grape jelly. People would love that story, right? It’s yours! I’ll never have time to get away from work and break the story to a national audience myself.”
“Non-profit grant writer? Hmm. My 7-year-old niece is into non-profits. Do you write grants for any children’s non-profits? Maybe she’s read one of your grants.”
“Software programmer? Like, for actual computers sold in stores or just as a hobby?”
“Gastroenterologist? My aunt tried to be a gastroenterologist. Hard to make a living doing that! Hahaha!”
“Menswear designer for J. Crew? Interesting. Have you tried selling your clothes yourself on Etsy instead? I hear people are making millions self-designing on the internet these days.”
“You said a Wall Street banker? Interesting. Would I know any of the economies you ruined with borderline illegal practices?’