when did writers get so outgoing?

The great thing about being a writer is that you can be dorky and awkward and clumsy and prone to small but frequent accidents involving ketchup, and none of that matters. What matters is your words. And you write them alone, or potentially in a coffee shop, and the pressure you feel comes from yourself, and not from the world. You don’t have to be cool. You can take twenty minutes on a single witty sentence, and then when someone reads it later, in one second, they might laugh and say, “Damn, she’s clever.”

(source)

The great thing about being a writer is that it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is how your mind works. What matters is your sentence structure, and your ability to recreate authentic sounding dialogue on the page. What matters is your mastery of tiny, meaningful observations.

You might not be worldly, but you understand the world around you intimately—deeply. You might not be the life of the party, but you can write a totally convincing party scene.

The great thing about being a writer is that you can be your regular, unimpressive, bad-haired self. And that’s fine.

Except it’s not fine.

 

That’s what I’m discovering.

Because all of the writers I meet in this city are beautiful and clever and fashionably-dressed. They are tuned in, savvy, trend-setters in fabulous vintage jewelry and brashly high heels. They are expert networkers who all already know each other. They are fiercely ambitious, intimidatingly social, meteoric, quick-talking women who laugh readily and always know what’s hot right now.

When I try to network with other writers, I have to be really funny, and my outfit has to be really cute. If I stumble over my words, even once, I feel their attention sliding off me. They are looking past me, for someone more interesting. Someone with nicer shoes and more spontaneous one-liners.

And I try to network with other writers, because that is how you get ahead.

Which is another disappointing thing.

Once I pitched an editor six times without hearing back. And then a writer friend who worked with her introduced me to her, saying, “Kate is an awesome writer!” and she accepted my next pitch. And then…that same thing happened three more times. I kept having to know someone to even get a pitch read. Which is not always true, of course. But it’s true enough enough of the time.

I thought writing might be different. I thought that maybe writing would be less about impressing people at parties, and more about living in a cottage in the hills, making tiny, brilliant, relatable observations about growing a garden that you then send to a New York publisher, who is happy to fly you up occasionally for fancy parties, where people already like you, because they not-so-secretly wish they knew how to garden.

 

(source)

As it turns out, there is quite a bit of handing out business cards involved. I haven’t made any because I am destined for failure and also I can’t think of a catchy enough design. It should be spectacularly catchy, I think. Unforgettable. It should make people laugh out loud, the moment they see it. It should make people want to offer me book deals. And I should have something amazing to put on it. I’m leaning towards “Empress of Everything.”

As it turns out, it’s important to be loud and clever and dashingly attired enough to catch the attention of someone who edits something. There’s a lot of assiduously building connections and reminding people over and over and over again that yes, unfortunately perhaps for their inbox, you are still alive. And yes, you are still trying to make it as a writer. You don’t yet have a business card, but you can be very catchy, really. And yes, you have the audacity to think that maybe they might be interested in what you are writing. Again.

(not the best for gardening, maybe, but I’d take it. source)

So now, when college students contact me to ask me about making it as a writer—what is it like? What do they have to do?—I want to apologize to them. For the way it really is. At least, the way it is here. For the fact that they will have to try to be amusing in person as well as on paper. They will have to reach out and reach out and probably invest in some cuter shoes.

And the other writers they meet will be strikingly beautiful, for some reason that no one can figure out, and they will be quick to speak. If you don’t say something soon, they will move past you and talk to someone else.

You will wonder why you are not funnier in person. You will wonder if there’s ketchup on you, somewhere. Somewhere other people can see, but you can’t.

You will wonder why you’re not home, right now. Instead of standing here awkwardly, at this event with all these other writers. You will wonder why you’re not writing, instead. In your pajamas. Hunched over. With greasy hair and food in your teeth and a glass of water and a glass of juice and a glass of milk because you can’t decide which one you’re really in the mood for.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Or New York City. The place where dreams sometimes come true, if you network ambitiously and devotedly enough.

I find myself dreading meeting more writers, sometimes. We are supposed to know each other’s resumes. And everyone has a memoir out, about family. It’s always about family. It always has an ironic picture on the front, that implies that something’s irreparably broken, but also makes you smile.

I find myself wishing that I knew more astrophysicists, and librarians, and med students, and marine biologists, and small business owners. I wonder what they talk about. I want to listen. I want to study their dialogue, for scenes I’ll someday write.  And later, when someone asks me about myself, I will say, “I’m a writer.” And I will seem a little exotic.

They might wonder if I keep a cottage somewhere, in the hills, where I am planning a garden.

(source)

*  *  *

This is how I look now, when I write:

I’m kidding. I only put those shoes on for the photo shoots I occasionally do, alone, in my apartment. Because I’m cool like that.

How much networking do you need to do in your field?

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in a short, bold, striped dress. Because I look so cute already, I will not bother to wash my hair.

P.S. I am tempted to include a lot of the other photos that came up when I googled “cottage with garden.”

51 Comments »

Kate on March 11th 2012 in new york, work, writing

51 Responses to “when did writers get so outgoing?”

  1. Ashley responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    This is an eye opening post. I am an aspiring writer here in the midwest, currently in my pajamas with messy hair eating cookie dough ice cream. I love this. I have yet to go out there in the city and try to network with other writers, so thank you for this warning, although I can’t say I’m too much surprised that being a writer isn’t much different than being an actress, or at least that is how it is dressed up to be.

  2. Amanda responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    I live in central Florida, and down here there isn’t a whole lot of networking going on for office managers. I’m not sure how it is for writers — I majored in English, but my writing is strictly hobbyist-type. Giant fear of rejection. Huge!

    I waver between distress over my professional mediocrity (“office manager” is fancy-talk for “secretary v2.0″), and finding joy in the simplicity. I try to concentrate more on the latter.

  3. HUnter4086 responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    City or country you just have to focus and make sure you are actually writing most of the time – not ‘networking,’ or worrying about other writers, or participating in any activities that are not-writing. You can either write, or talk about writing. Astonishingly high heels optional in either case.

  4. Kate responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    @Ashley
    Just do it your way! Sounds awesome. And honestly, that’s mostly how I am anyway. Maybe because I can’t act? :-)

  5. Kate responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    @Amanda
    Rejection is shitty. But submit a few things anyway, sometime, because you might as well try! Or maybe this is more complicated. I shouldn’t be giving advice– the only reason I’m decent at being rejected is because I’ve been rejected like a trillion times. And the first several million were terrible.

    Also– yay for simplicity!

  6. Kate responded on 11 Mar 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    @Hunter
    Are you a writer? Just curious.

  7. Nobody's Girl responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Holy shit, you look good in that picture. In a very scary way. Like you would have laughed at me when I was a freshman.

  8. Cassie responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Firstly, I love the boots. Fact.

    Secondly, I work in a job that I feel requires too much schmoozing, and I’m an extrovert (that’s not my job, my job is I’m a diplomat, but extrovert might be a fun job). It’s exhausting always being “on”, handing out business cards and asking piercing questions that get to the heart of a country’s policies or problems (in my head that’s what I imagine I’m like, in reality I’m probably just buying lots of people coffee). I sincerely wanted to believe that there are jobs out there where you can just “be” and not have to schmooze your face off all the time. I wanted to believe that not everything is about who you know, but rather how hard you work. So I’m a bit sad that even writing requires all this schmooze-factor.

    Although, this is very clever. And I think “Empress of Everything” is great for a business card. And I’d suggest Pinterest for really interesting business card ideas. In my job they are standard and boring and embossed and stuff, but at least as a writer, you can be creative!

  9. Alpana Trivedi responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:21 am #

    Hey, who says you can’t be a writer AND the life of the party? I am!!! Just kidding!! I’m very outgoing, but for all the talking I do, I have yet to get off my butt and get some writing done. Heck, it doesn’t even really require me to get off my butt. LOL But I know if I want to get my writing out there, I need to write more than just in my journal. Personally, it’s better to let the writing do the talking rather than come off as savvy or cool. But I’m sure you see the hypocrisy in that statement. LOL

    On a serious note, Kate, it seems that no matter what job we have, even our so-called dream job, promoting yourself seems to be a requirement. Unfortunately, that’s probably why I stayed in college for nine years. And now I’m in the Navy. Was this all because I couldn’t handle making it in the real world with all the resume-writing, promoting, and “dressing for success?” I wonder. The only dress-for-success we do here is iron our uniforms and shine our boots. And I still prefer to wear flowy, tie-dye skirts or palazzo pants when I’m off-duty. THAT’s the real me, not the uniform.

  10. Marie responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:33 am #

    You can know me, I’m a microbiologist. And when I get together with my microbiologist friends, we are incredibly nerdy, and interesting to no one but ourselves, because unless you have a molecular biology background, you won’t find details of new Archaea or why that research about the arsenic-based microbe wasn’t as big of a deal as the media wanted it to be(or rather, not for the reasons they wanted it to be, it was pretty damn interesting) or why our advisors are assholes anything but uninteresting and unintelligible. God that sounded pretentious, but I really mean that cliques are only interesting to themselves.

  11. Blair responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Speaking as a college student who has come to you for advice…:)

    Don’t apologize! Or, at least, don’t feel like you have to. I have always sensed that there was a lot of the dread networking involved in the career-building aspects of being a writer. And yes, I made business cards, but only because I’m a huge dork and love seeing my name in print any way I can. (Also because my name is really hard to spell out to people…)

    Anyway, I’ve totally gone into most writerly events with that terrified, where-is-the-ketchup-on-me feeling, but pleasantly enough, it usually proves unfounded. Maybe I’ve just been crazily lucky, but most of the other writers I’ve “networked” with (meaning…we chatted? I read their twitters now? I’m not sure if I’ve really gotten the hang of it yet) have been cool, interesting, down-to-earth people. That, and free cocktails, have made it a little easier to insert myself into the web of writerdom.

    That said, I would SO go for a cottage in the woods ANY day. Reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (where she lives off the land and writes novels all the time) was like a published version of my wildest personal fantasy. Sigh.

  12. Lili @ Relatable Style responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 8:44 am #

    The first thing I thought while reading this is “yes, those are the ones you MEET. Because the other ones are all at home in their sweatpants”. :-) Like how you google some health-related stuff and all that comes up makes you think something is seriously wrong… But then you notice that it’s actually a group effect because the people who are just fine don’t write about their issues on the net.
    That said, I always find it “refreshing” (yea, I said it) to read your honesty. I guess (I can only guess as I’ve never witnessed it) it’s the same thing about bloggers… Somehow the others always do more and have more. I don’t want to imagine what it would be like being in a room full of pro bloggers having to network. I feel it is hard enough in my actual field of expertise (psychology). I’ll be on a congress again this year with a lot of doctors and medical researchers and pharma referents. They all seem to know each other and each other’s work and everyone seems to be terribly important while I know no one and most of the people I haven’t even heard of (and yes, it’s mostly also terribly boring because most of the research does not refer to my own… yawn.). It wouldn’t be so bad if my boss wasn’t there too watching me in what I do. I’m happy I speak English fluently, if I didn’t it would be much more of a nightmare. I mean, imagine trying to network in a foreign language! It’s not only bad if you don’t speak it very well, it’s also problematic if the other person doesn’t and you have to say “Pardon?” every few seconds or just pretend you understood, just to be polite, and hope the other one did not say anything important…

  13. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 11:48 am #

    @Blair
    That’s exactly the book I was thinking of when I wrote this! SO funny! :-)

  14. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 11:52 am #

    @Lili
    That could be completely right. I also think that sometimes more aggressive, ferocious networkers end up in NYC, too. And it’s really hard to make it as a writer, so maybe people have to be more aggressive about it now?
    Wild guesses.
    I remember when I did academic conferences– that’s how it felt. Some people LOVED them, and I really tried to love them, too, but I always felt awkward. Good luck!!

  15. Melanie responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I work for a bureaucracy and although I don’t kiss up often, I do find myself saying, “Oh, I’ll take care of that” if I think it’s for someone who can help in my next promotion, which I am eligible for next month. It’s just a fact of life in most professions, that you have to network to get ahead. I make sure people know who I am for my quality work rather than being known as, “You know, the girl with all the tattoos and the stretched out ears.” Not that I am ashamed of being that girl, it’s just that here I want to be remembered for what I do, now how I look. I am actually applying for a job in management as we speak. Ugh!

  16. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    shameless self promotion is what it’s called :) only the coolest writers engage in SSP, with cool shoes and a great sense of humor…and networking with others is “energy work.” you have to put yourself out there, “connect” with the right folks (and if you’re putting yourself out there in authentic ways, you will automatically “connect” with the right folks)…the write/right things will happen.

  17. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    @Nobody’s Girl
    I promise that I wouldn’t ever have laughed at you. I might, however, have tripped over my feet, if I was wearing those shoes.

  18. the unexpected extrovert | blair thornburgh responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    [...] romance. dealwithit.gif), you are at best a laughable novelty and at worst a shit-for-brains hack. Kate is spot-on when she talks about dreading meeting with other writers. I’d spent most of high [...]

  19. Rowdygirl responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I wish you success.. but don’t sell your soul and become like “them”. :)

  20. D responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m a geologist, and luckily (in my mind) we don’t seem to need to do a ton of networking outside of our regular work day. Lunches and lunch classes/gatherings seem to be a popular networking method. That being said, there are a ton of old dude geologists in my industry who all seem to know each other already, so maybe I should consider upping my game. The networking we do is usually over beers, and is pretty relaxed.

    A cottage with a huge garden sounds wonderful!

  21. Carmen responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Welcome to life. No field is just what we envision it to be – there is always networking or negotiating and spreadsheets and hideously less glamour than anyone on the outside would ever suspect. It’s what we do about it (pout, find something else, or just suck up the spreadsheets and go on about your business) that affects the actual experience.

    When I was little I thought “office workers” were so glamorous because they dressed up and check marked boxes on papers and had meetings with other dressed up people to check mark more boxes. OMG! I am an office worker now and it is absolutely all and none of those things – but it is other stuff so I chalk it up to a learning experience. Sometimes we get so enamored with the idea of something (or someone) that we miss the actual – both what the thing is and what we actually want.

    I found Kate White’s (now dated but still quite readable and applicable) book “7 Secrets of Women Who Get What They Want” to be quite inspiring and helpful. You might too.

  22. Hannah responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    This is amazing.
    You’re amazing.

    And from bed, curled up in pajamas because it’s spring break and I can, I thank you.

  23. Liz responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    I’m just going to be honest here. Everything I have had published in the last 15 years has been from meeting someone first (or working in-house). By “meeting” I mean: in person, on the phone, or on-line. I’m working on two potential magazines pitches right now that may happen by pitching alone without “meeting” first, but we’ll see. I’d be thrilled (and shocked)!

    I met with a friend of a friend who was helping set me up with some freelance writing gigs at Microsoft. The woman I met was very nice, helpful, and honest. Straight away when she me she got straight to the point,

    “I can tell you would not enjoy being a technical writer. I have another idea for you…”

    She went on to tell me the other idea, which in fact, was a better fit for me. I’m pretty sure she based her quick opinion from the clothes I was wearing, which were professional, but perhaps had an artsy flair. It was an immediate assessment she made. Sort of depressing, but, in actuality it worked out better for me because I wouldn’t want to be stuck writing something I don’t enjoy writing about.

    I have been invited to two mediabistro.com cocktail parties in Seattle in the last several months, but have been unable to attend either. After reading your post, I think I’ll make time for the next party and make sure to wear the appropriate attire—the kind that completely represents me!

  24. Anne responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    @Amanda- I feel you on the “office manager” thing- I’m just a receptionist right now, but should be promoted to office manager soon, which sometimes I get really excited about (yay, first promotion of my life!) and sometimes, like you, I just feel bummed about it (as in, “I slaved through college for this? Creating schedules and ordering supplies is going to be my big contribution to society?”)

    As to the general topic, I was just talking with my partner yesterday about getting back into writing (something that I once felt quite a passion for, but it has since dwindled, partially because of the things Kate talked about- realizing that working as a writer doesn’t just consist of writing!). I’m the type of person who can only focus on one big thing at a time, so as long as I work a 40+ hours a week job, I’m not going to be able to actively pursue writing. It sucks sometimes :(

  25. Rachel Cronin responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I was nodding and laughing throughout this entire post, only in my case it’s other artists rather than writers. I run a small gallery space in a picturesque corner of middle England and i’m an artist too but I have lost count of the private views I have attended where I have either a) hid in the staff room and phoned my friends b) hid in the kitchen and stuffed my face with Dortitos or c) hid in my office and answered emails, just to avoid talking to other artists with their expensive highlights/chunky ethnic jewellery/self-consciously quirky clothes/Cotswold barn conversions.
    I am also a bit of a daydreamer and have this unfortunate tendency to zone out of conversations I find a bit boring which I know is really rude but I just can’t help it.
    I do sometimes feel that, if you’re creative, you will struggle to get anywhere unless you network and self promote. I’m really hoping it’s a skill I can acquire over time with a bit more practice, in the meantime I just try not to take it all so seriously and remember that sincerity, geekiness and a sense of humour (and great shoes) will trump cool nearly every time.

  26. Hunter4086 responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Yes (in answer to your question).

  27. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    @Hunter
    Where do you live/what kind of writing do you do?

  28. Sooz responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    wow. you look hot in that picture. That’s first. Second, have you read the book “quiet”? it kinda talks about introverts and how we live in the cult of personality these days and it sounds remarkably similar to what you were expressing in your post. anyway….i don’t network cause I suck at it. Probably would get “ahead” faster if I did but I don’t cause I’m not that motivated to be “more” or “better”
    or achieve lots of things. Oh well. :)

  29. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    @Sooz
    YES, and I LOVE THAT BOOK! I’ve been meaning to write about it…
    Apparently, according to the book, I’m an “ambivert”? That’s like when your extroversion and introversion are in exactly equal parts. Crazy!! I feel unique. But I think I write more about my introverted side.

  30. San D responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    It seems to me that the only two writers I know who became famous by being isolated in their rooms were Emily Dickenson, and Jessica Fletcher (oh yeah, except for the murders). There’s always JK Rowling who wrote while riding the tubes in London. In this day and age, quite frankly ANYONE can call themselves a writer. So how does one weed out the “real” writers from anyone with a keyboard and an audience? One way is by having someone vouch for you, your talent and your “truth”. That is what networking is all about. People get to “know” you, as best as they can, and that allows them to either hire you or recommend you. Writing is hard work (as you know), and mundane and pedestrian at times. It’s a job, it’s an avocation, it’s an art, but it’s still work. As a person who has a stack of rejection letters (but they all came with suggestions which was very nice), I know whereof I speak. I used to say this to my art students: “Go to an interview with your portfolio and speak about your work” why? Because ANYONE could have painted those paintings, you need to prove YOU DID THEM.

  31. HUnter4086 responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Hi again! I live in Canada (Vancouver, and a small town) and I write short stories (appearing in misc. magazines). Networking makes my skin crawl because when I’m alone I can pretend I’m the nly one writing, and each story is a gift to the world. But when I see all of the cleverer, prettier people with so much more going on I realize I’m just a needle in a haystack and it is very discouraging. Hence, I am antisocial.

  32. Kate responded on 12 Mar 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    @Hunter
    Hi! Thanks for answering! And now, this is changing the subject, but: I currently think Vancouver is possibly the most beautiful place in the world. How do you like it? I am watching the Hulu show Endgame because it’s set there (also, it’s pretty good). :-)

  33. T.K. responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Kate, I must be totally clueless because I don’t even know how a writer goes about networking. How does one even get invited to these parties and events? Ha. Never mind worrying about everyone else there being way cooler than you — this girl ( pointing to myself) can’t even get through the front door!

  34. Kate responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 12:09 am #

    @T.K. Well, there are networking events that you can sign up for. You have to pay for a lot of them. I actually don’t go to those. But I sometimes go to stuff that writer friends invite me to. I think most networking is just a matter of making friends with other people in the field, and then participating in the stuff that they’re doing.

    My friends who are good at networking reach out to people they don’t know but want to impress and invite them to have coffee. Eep.

  35. Claire Allison responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 12:54 am #

    Answer to Vancouver question: totally beautiful and amazing. Rent sucks a million, million times and the winter rain feels like it will never end. Once you get past those two parts it’s pretty sweet.

    I’m in the theatre industry which is pretty tough. A lot of people here use it as a way into film, or a reflection of it, so that it’s hard to do anything that’s not naturalism. Every job I’ve ever had has been through networking or working first for free. I don’t think I’ve received any work with blind resume submissions.

    I think the creative industries just demand networking, and the bigger the market the harder the work. I do console myself with the knowledge that most of the time, it’s not that hard to dress better than theatre people since they’re overworked and underpaid.

  36. T.K. responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 1:05 am #

    @Kate – reach out to people you don’t know and invite them to have coffee??? i would rather chew my own limb off ( and my day job is in sales so i am no wallflower). it’s amazing that you know people who can pull this off – i am in awe. and i can’t believe that established writers would just go and have coffee with some random person. except it’s probably not some random person. they probably know someone who knows someone whose name they can drop in an email when they reach out. that’s how networking works. sigh. the best i have to show for myself is a couple of facebook comments i exchanged with Gary Shteyngardt. I think I made him laugh. I think we were going to be the best of friends. I think he was falling madly in love with me. And then he moved on to one of his million witty, brilliant, extraordinary fans. Based on what you’re telling me it sounds like I need to make more writer friends. Hey – you write! Want to be my friend? Please? Pretty please??? Ha haha ha.

  37. Celynne responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I’m a librarian, actually :) I don’t really fit in with most of them though, I’m a bit of a wild child in comparison (I’m wearing a snakeskin top to work as we speak, oh-hoho!) There’s not really much you can do these days that won’t be easier by knowing the right people it seems, even being a writer.

  38. Sooz responded on 13 Mar 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    @ Kate You are amazing. Ambivert, introvert, extrovert or other-vert. I always feel better after I’ve read your latest post. Keep writing b/c lots of people believe in you and appreciate your words. :)

  39. Kate responded on 14 Mar 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    @Sooz
    Other-vert! LOL!!

  40. clickclackgorilla responded on 15 Mar 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Then again, who’s to say everyone else isn’t thinking the same thing about you at the party? (you know, that they must have ketchup on themsevles somewhere and that you are way too witty and gorgeous to keep up with and damn it why aren’t they home writing?) The grass, greener, etc. :) But I have to say, I am way too antisocial for that kind of thing. Makes the whole advent of social networking and whatnot pretty awesome. I can just do all that networking crapola online while in my pajs in bed with bad hair. Heh.

  41. Liz Rebecca responded on 15 Mar 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Kate,

    This is incredibly true of the 20-something life in any field. Tell me about it…my field is International Relations, so those I network with are all MA’s and Rhodes Scholars and have start-ups while being really trendy and cultured and wine connoisseurs at the same time that they’ve volunteered in Africa and started an orphanage while simultaneously bringing the world of micro finance to the less fortunate. And they perform they’re own songs at open mic nights on their down time. You may think I’m exaggerating, but this field attracts elites from all over the world and the lifestyle, background of privilege and endless connections and opportunities that you get from an Ivy League education and a family who has been connected for generations is something that even my Fulbright can’t compete with. I understand your frustration, and I live it every day, too. But I’m not letting it get me down just yet…

    Best of luck! You’re big break will come soon!

  42. Liz Rebecca responded on 15 Mar 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    bad typos, sorry!

  43. ace underwood responded on 20 Mar 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    I too was going to recommend “Quiet.” I’m a professional screenwriter, and Hollywood is at least as bad as NY when it comes to the non-stop schmoozing.
    The biggest issue, of course, is that in many cases the “suits” who decide to publish that book or hire that screenwriter are not creative people, and do not understand creative people in the least. Therefore, they assume that people who are witty and brilliant in person must be witty and brilliant on the page, when the exact opposite is often the case.

    I don’t schmooze, but then, I was lucky enough to win a prestigious writing competition which broke me in without having to play the usual game. Now outgoing people try to chat *me* up for “contacts,” which is just hilarious. Here’s what I’ve found — outgoing people often lack the empathy, introspection, and patience that’s required to become a great writer. They’re engaging in person, but they’re so restless and “lonely” whenever they have to sit down at the computer that they hardly ever finish anything. In this race, they are the hare and you are the tortoise. Their hyperactivity, artifice, and superficiality will never trump your deep observation and calm persistence.

  44. Girls Are Made From Pepsi » Sunday Hustle 25/03/12 responded on 24 Mar 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    [...] Why it’s important to put on your game face and a good pair of shoes, even if you work behind …. (Eat the Damn Cake) I thought writing might be different. I thought that maybe writing would be less about impressing people at parties, and more about living in a cottage in the hills, making tiny, brilliant, relatable observations about growing a garden that you then send to a New York publisher, who is happy to fly you up occasionally for fancy parties, where people already like you, because they not-so-secretly wish they knew how to garden. [...]

  45. Welcome to Monday afternoon! ~ 26th March 2012 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism responded on 25 Mar 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    [...] LOVE this aticle about writers, mostly because I am one and I see SO much of myself in [...]

  46. Lissa Matthews responded on 26 Mar 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    It is so depressing sometimes to have to be the outgoing persona when I am anything but… I am an introvert. I don’t want to have to be impressive in person. I want my writing to speak for me, to make the impression. I dream of having the book that the editor somewhere will pick up and love and want me to write something awesome for her… This has happened to friends around me, but not to me. I am the awkward, not outgoing one. I am the one holding up the wall, observing. I think your words are amazing and I’m so glad I’ve found your blog.

  47. RRainey responded on 29 Mar 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I’m going to grad school for my masters in english, but I also aspire to be a writer. Networking is difficult, especially when the economy is bad and you’re not really a “people” person to begin with. Besides in the real world, NOBODY wants the “real” you, they want THEIR version of you. It may sound depressing, but I have really learned not to have any expectations in life and really just go after what you really need, not want, in the moment. I wanted to move to New York and start a writing career. But I what needed was a job, any job, where I could support myself and not be burden to my parents. Now, even though I am attending school, I need to make more money, so I’m trying to get a promotion with the company I work for. And, if I have to quit school for that, I will, because being financially independent is more important to me then my “dreams.” And if I have to network and be something that they want me to be, then I will try my best. It does not mean that I’ll change who I am, it just means that my “me” time will mean even more when I have to play yet another role in this thing called “life.”
    But you should count your blessings: most other writers would KILL (me being one of them) to be where you are in your life right now. You might have to be “someone else” when you network, but everybody has to something unpleasant to get what they need or want out of life.

  48. Eat the Damn Cake » I don’t want to want to have a baby responded on 02 Apr 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    [...] I was supposed to. I got so many damn A’s in college. I got a bunch more in grad school. I networked.  I befriended mentor-types. I got a lot of internships that were absurdly competitive and involved [...]

  49. Eat the Damn Cake » Little Victories: how am I not jealous right now? responded on 11 Apr 2012 at 10:24 am #

    [...] a while, whenever I went to my writing group, I got jealous. We’d all show up, being fabulous and wearing interesting shoes, preening a little. And we’d report on our two weeks apart. Who was pitching where, getting [...]

  50. Eat the Damn Cake » introverted woman in a tutu dress responded on 01 Oct 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    [...] after that we were talking about larger writer get-togethers and how fun/not fun at all they are. I was on the not fun at all side, and the Rachels thought they were great. And suddenly I felt that old fear that someone would [...]

  51. Vivian responded on 23 Jan 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Authors and actors and artists and such
    Never know nothing, and never know much.
    Sculptors and singers and those of their kidney
    Tell their affairs from Seattle to Sydney.
    Playwrights and poets and such horses’ necks
    Start off from anywhere, end up at sex.
    Diarists, critics, and similar roe
    Never say nothing, and never say no.
    People Who Do Things exceed my endurance;
    God, for a man that solicits insurance!

    –Dorothy Parker. I admit I only remembered the last two lines verbatim as I read this post, but hey, google.