My husband spilled a slurpee in this car recently and I felt like I died a little on the inside. Not because of the car interior. But because he couldn’t eat his slurpee.
Before I get too far into this story I need to explain something.
Slurpee n. A slushy iced beverage favored with a carbonated beverage. The “carbonated beverage” part is key to what makes this beverage from the gods unique from anything else. Why do I need to explain this?
BECAUSE THE PEOPLE OF GREEN BAY WISCONSIN DON’T KNOW WHAT A FUCKING SLURPEE IS! They judge and sneer at you when you ask for a slurpee like you’re a freak that just asked for a bag of dead kittens.
“A what? I have no idea what that is. Do you mean a slushy?”
No. It’s a motherfucking slurpee not to be confused with a slushy which is much less satisfying. We can compromise at “frozen drink” but only if it’s coke flavored and that’s because copyrights are involved.
And either way, a beverage of royalty status does not belong splattered on the car seat, cup holder, pant leg, and floor mat.
I felt sad, not because ice crystals were slowly melting into fabric instead of on ones tongue. Not because of the flavor is now transformed into a syrupy mess instead of a belly satisfying sticky sweet substance.
I was upset because my husband deserved a little break and if what he wanted with his break from the work day stress was a slurpee, then I fully support his purchase. Just as much, I feel crushed when he feels crushed that after all his efforts, the reward was ruined.
It’s important to praise him for his hard work, to listen when he gets overwhelmed, to calm him off the ledge when he gets an email that something is wrong right as he is walking out of the work door to come home. It’s important to understand the emotional value of a slurpee.
This is support.
It’s easy to do when it’s something tangible. Everyone has dropped a slurpee, everyone has had work issues, everyone has that dream just out of reach, or that limit reaching breaking point.
What’s different about writing is whether or not people take you seriously and understand what it means to you. When you have a set back in writing, it’s an emotional set back. No one see’s the digital pages spilled over the floor quite like a writer does.
I have sat with a lot of “writers” and they have never written anything. These people just simply have the desire to write and there is something fearful about putting words on paper because it exposes what is in your mind. This fear to write often devalues what writing actually means to that person. Just because they might not be at the same level as the next person does not mean they long or love to write any less.
This is where support and encouragement are key.
At any point someone tells me they want to write something, anything, I let them do the talking.
Why do you want to write?
What do you want to write?
What prevents you from writing?
What have you tried to help you write?
What would encourage you to write more?
But what is most important is to understand what they are going through and identify with them to understand how they are feeling.
Like when someone else drops a slurpee. You know what that feels like. You love slurpees, too.
But the topic is about how to deal with unsupportive people. Yeah, we’re several hundred words into this post and I’m just now getting on topic. Now, hold on to your butts…
I’ve never met an unsupportive person in the traditional sense of “unsupportive.”
Rather, I’ve meet annoying as fuck people. I call them the “me me me’s.”
No one has ever told my I can’t do something, that my writing isn’t going any where. I’ve never been told to give up, to move on, to stop trying.
What I have encountered are people who have gotten pass the fear of writing, found confidence and now, no longer understanding to the people who supported them and need support from them.
A) Supportive person: Yes, I have finished a novel. Have you? No? Well how can I help? What problems are you running into that is preventing you from finishing?
B) Nonsupportive person: Yes, I have finished a novel. I already have an agent and in the editing process as well as working on cover art. What’s your email address? Let me add you to my newsletter. I typically write about male banshees. Banshees are female in folklore but I wanted to branch out and be unique. I gave them dicks.
This really happens. (I made up the banshee dick part but the rest of it is true.)
I was at a writer’s conference not too long ago and there was a guy there who was speaking about how to land an agent. We’ll call him Tom. His name might have actually been Tom, I honestly don’t remember. Tom has had the same agent since 1997 and a lot of writing success. Which is really good, it’s nice to see an author with longevity because the business can be fickle. But his advice was out dated and “me me me.” I can tell you a lot about Tom. I can tell you how often he emails his agent, what projects his agent has gotten for him, the different genres he written in, what he has found success in, failures in, and how some projects were picked up easily and others failed to pick up at all.
I walked away with jack shit about agents.
Nothing Tom lectured about was relevant to today’s writer and methods on how to find an agent. He had no advice. He just talked about himself.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t be Tom.
But people like Tom are unavoidable. He is not the first Tom or last Tom I will encounter. I really wanted to know first hand what it’s like to work with an agent as a new writer. This is something I am new to and need help with. Tom had an opportunity to be supportive and there were willing participants in the crowd longing for his advice. All I learned was the 9/11 attacks ruined traditional querying because of anthrax fears. Yes, he really talked about this rather than suggesting something more relevant such as, “Pick up Writer’s Market which is full of information about agents and what they are looking for including pet peeves to avoid and how to write a query letter with examples. Cross reference agencies in the book by searching the agency online and seeing what that agency is specifically looking for. They don’t want to waste their time just as well as you shouldn’t waste yours. Give them only what they ask for.” Well, at least that’s what I would have said if I was giving a lecture on how to land an agent. Not gone on about the events of 2001 during a lecture about the writing business in 2016.
In 1997 while Tom was sending letters though the U.S. Post Office to land an agent, I was probably flipping through a Delia’s catalog while watching re-runs of My So Called Life. I assure you, things change. Even in 2001 when email became the preferred method over post mail, he already had his agent and wasn’t completely sure how querying was different. His recommendation was not to use Wingdings as your email font.
When you encounter these people, still listen. Still ask questions. Still engage with them. Bottom line, they are writers with feelings too and their work should still be supported.
And if all else fails and the “me me me” starts to make you feel down and inadequate.
Just imaging kicking banshee dicks while they are talking.
Please read my support team and the team I support.