Polls have shown us that viewers prefer articles with images even if the images have nothing to do with the text.
I was a programmer long before I was ever a writer, to the tune of probably a decade. Programming is still my first passion and my truest love, but it’s nothing that I would ever go into as a profession; you don’t necessarily need to turn the things you enjoy into monetization opportunities at every conceivable turn.
Programming is a very geeky hobby, through and through, and you feel it within the community. Some communities are very open and others very clannish, but for the most part they are very polite. The creed of the geek has always been to share and share alike: by helping each other, we help ourselves. A little romanticized to be sure, but for the most part I’ve found it to be true.
The writing community, on the other hand, is something else. I’ve made a fair amount of remarks regarding my belief that writers should find a community and I still believe it to be true. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t take a long time to find such a community. In fact, you might have to build it yourself.
This is just a stock photo of a man thinking.
A great deal of writing communities—though of course not all—are incredibly volatile, to the extent that it’s a wonder anyone gets help at all. Many of them are extraordinarily insular and have their own cultural mechanisms, down to the language they use. This is my observation purely from lurking rather than being attacked on any personal level. I’ve joined communities only to see new users repeatedly beaten down, humiliated and trashed.
One of the more popular self-publishing forums that I’ve been on has a habit of jumping to unfortunate conclusions. I was witness as someone, a male writer, posted a note introducing his editor to the forum, stating that she was quite good. Within a day, the forum had decided that the male writer was the editor hawking her own wares in disguise, despite all evidence that they were, in fact, two real and different people. This kind of thing happens again and again and there is nothing you can do to sway the mob mentality; once a single person sets the tone, everyone else follows.
Writers come from different economic backgrounds, educational backgrounds and even geographical locations. We are all genders, races, ages, sexualities and blood types. But what really strikes me is the amount of in-fighting that occurs in the profession. You don’t see plumbers sniping at each other on community forums. You don’t see zoo keepers banding together in virtual groups against other zoo keepers. That would be awesome, but it doesn’t happen.
Writing is hard. It’s a very difficult profession to make a living in. I wonder if it isn’t the stress of the work combining with the feeling that you’ve achieved something beyond what an ordinary person could achieve. Maybe you feel that you deserve to dole out those lumps that were once dealt to you. I don’t know what it is, but it makes me feel a little depressed that we can’t be a little more patient with each other and a little more loving.
We don’t need to be as skeptical as we are. We don’t need to be as jaded. It is a hard profession, but you don’t have to become hard.