Why are Writers Fascinating?
This is something that mystifies me. When I tell people I'm a writer, they are so excited and lob questions at me like I'm the all-knowing Oz. I live two blocks from the Apple campus (and they didn't ask me or I would have used my marketing degree to advise them on the STUPID iPad name -- hello? Focus group, people, get out of your closed-in world. I'm available at your Starbucks every morning!) Sorry, tangent. And it seems nearly everyone here has a PhD -- at least a Masters and they all wear their fancy college name on the back of their Mercedes. I went to San Jose State, and let's just say, I graduated all right? I was happy with that. I saw no reason to go to school any longer than that. I thought, quick, grab the degree before someone figures out that you guessed on that Scantron test for statistics and takes back that B-!
As someone who is good at things that make no worldly difference, like the lyrics to 80's classics or what season someone's Coach bag is, I'm always interested in hearing what people do around here. Yesterday, I was in line and I met an Indian woman who teaches university classes online. Well, I know another Indian woman who teaches online and I ask her if they're acquainted. Lo and behold, they know each other from the YMCA and unanimously, the worst part of teaching online is grading. I will put that info away for further use! But both thought they might write a book someday.
I met a female pharmacist the other day, educated in India -- who hates her job. She wants to be a writer and couldn't wait to pick my brain. I sort of resent this. These people are fully employable. So go. Work. Leaving the writing to us hermits with no other discernable skills, okay?
I want to tell these people, I'm a writer -- which means I am the most boring person you can imagine. Think of a librarian and take out the social aspects. We spend our days alone, in our imaginary worlds and we ingest a lot of caffeine. Does that sound like the life of Riley to you? Oh, and our paychecks are few and far between unless your name is J.K. Rowling -- and mine isn't.
Colin Firth was on "Charlie Rose" last night, and he said he wanted to be an actor because he didn't want to get up in the morning. He didn't want to do anything that required him to be somewhere early. I second that. My brain doesn't turn on until about ten. But that got me to thinking, these people who are so fascinated by writing as a job -- they are CAPABLE people with a paying job, why would they want to do this? Can you live with a paycheck being optional? Can you live with people saying you suck online and in magazines?
So why do people who are smart enough to get PhDs, and valuable enough to make the big bucks in Silicon Valley, why on earth do they want to ask me questions? Maybe they're thinking, how on earth is that stupid chick a writer? Gosh. Anybody can do it then!
At the same time, if I met Maeve Binchy, Anne Tyler or Martha Beck, I wouldn't be able to speak from being starstruck -- but what fascinates me is people who can get multiple advanced degrees because I could NEVER do it. I'm a writer because I want to know the answers. I want to know what made people the way they are. What building blocks go into what kind of people? Quirky people fascinate me. The guy with two Phds who is collecting/trading Star Wars card on a Saturday morning at the mall. What synapse are/aren't firing to make that happen? What kind of people do you find fascinating? And where do you find them? I get my best stuff at my son's soccer game.
Labels: Apple, librarian, novelists, People watching, Phd, Silicon Valley, writers