"Jerry, I'm a little insulted."
"You're not a little anything, Newman."
After attending a wake this week, a bunch of us decided to go out for some drinks at the local watering hole. I got into a discussion about writing with one of the people at the table, mentioning I recently purchased The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I said, "Half the things in the book I already do," and the person replied, "Maybe you need to worry about the other half then," while perusing her smartphone.
What really aggravated me about the response was that it came from a person who, despite my repeated insistence they check out my blog, short stories, or novels, has never read a single word I've written. The true insult, whether they realized it or not, was being told I need improvement by someone unfamiliar with my work, outside of my status updates/comments on Facebook.
For the past few days, the person's response has been clawing at me; I've had other people in my life make similar comments. An uncle once told me, "Maybe you're not as good as you think you are." He has also never read my any of work.
Last weekend, another friend that has never read anything of mine referred to me as lazy and followed the insult with, "Come on. What's it take to write to a book?" He chuckled when I responded, "Try it, if you've got a couple years."
If these comments came from people that finished anything I had written: a chapter, a page, a paragraph, a sentence, I would take their words as honest criticism, doubling my efforts to improve, yet I can't. They are clueless of my methods or style, ignorant of what I'm trying to accomplish--they're flippant.