Monday, March 2, 2020

Don't Let the Naysayers Get You Down

If you’re a serious writer, you no doubt not only love to write but you also love to read. I know I do. Has anyone criticized you for either? And if you’re a professional writer and have a home office, has anyone assumed that you “aren’t working”?

Regarding the former, when I was growing up, we had many books in our house. My mother bought them for us for various occasions and also just because.

       As an adult, I started my home library with books from childhood, college, and grad school, and have kept accumulating them ever since. Enough shelf space was a must in the three houses I have owned.

 It took me a month to pack my approximately three thousand tomes when I moved from my previous residence to my current one. Many of these and the hundreds I’ve acquired since are signed by the authors.

My library is my pride and joy. Fiction, science fiction, nonfiction, science, social science, and childhood treasures fill the main one, located across the hall from my living room. Writing, publishing, and marketing categories are in my office. Texts and other academic materials are in a spare bedroom upstairs. Those written by friends and colleagues occupy hallowed shelves in my master bedroom. One cabinet in the upstairs hall houses my beloved Nancy Drew collection.

So imagine my surprise when a psychologist friend visited me and said upon seeing the books in my main library, “Why don’t you get rid of them?”

What?? I thought. Who would suggest such a thing?

And what would she say if she saw all the others?

By her own admission, she doesn’t read. Yes, a non-reader suggested I get rid of my most precious gems!

Then I remembered that this is the same person who said, “You don’t have a job.” This despite my having published over 200 articles in national publications and twenty-nine (soon to be thirty) books, eleven traditionally and the rest through my own small press.

Never mind that I market my work and do speaking engagements, both of which provide good income. And never mind also that I publish other people’s work and coach subject-matter experts in writing books based on their expertise. She certainly has heard my 30-second pitch often enough on the latter at our networking group.

“Writing, publishing, and coaching ARE my jobs,” I told her. And no, I have no intention of getting rid of any of my prized possessions—except marketing and grammar ones that are out-of-date¾and these I replace with new editions.

Regarding working from home, we’ve all heard of actors and musicians being accused by family members and others of not having “real jobs,” but I never expected this comment from someone in my networking group—all of whom are self-employed, including the person in question. The difference is that she goes to an office every day. But because I have a home office and don’t go to another building to work, I “don’t have a job.”

We have to accept that some people just don’t understand us. So what to do about them?
I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. Most are business owners, but many are artists, musicians, and writers. Some are doctors and lawyers in private practice. Mine is definitely an artsy family rather than a science-oriented one. Never have any of my relatives accused me or anyone else who is self-employed of “not having a job.” So I let comments like those of my acquaintance roll off my back.

We’re writers because it’s in our blood. It’s the essence of who we are. It’s our passion. We can’t not write.

If only people like my colleague knew how much time and energy producing an article or chapter takes, not to mention the time and energy involved in marketing for sales and/or new clients. And good writers must be readers.

We work for ourselves because it provides us the freedom to run our own lives and the ability to have unlimited income potential. If you find people criticizing you, ignore them. Don’t let the naysayers get you down.

Heed not only my words but also those of Kimanzi Constable:

You have to be your biggest cheerleader…. [Don’t] depend on someone else for…for validation from people who don’t understand. …Real strength …starts with you. Don't depend on anyone else for emotional, mental, or entrepreneurial strength” (

So ignore those who don’t understand you. Keep on reading. Build your own library. Continue your writing career.

And believe in yourself. No matter what.


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