Years ago in graduate school, I discovered the wonder of Dar Williams. All of her songs resonate with me on some level, but the lyrics from one song in particular have stayed in my head for years. That song? “Are You Out There?” In it, Dar questions if someone can hear her and mentions that she’s been listening. Of course, the meaning of the lyrics go much deeper than that—this is a Dar Williams song after all—but even surface level Dar is profound and powerful.
Fast forward to several weeks ago, when an email arrived in my inbox from a person I’ve known for a long time. They are the sort of person who likes to connect people, and this time, they were connecting two writers. “I know she has a passion for writing,” they said in reference to me. And then, referring to us both, “You love to write.”
They weren’t wrong. I do have a passion for writing, and I love to write. But the tone of the email quickly indicated to me that this person views my writing as a hobby, something I like to do in my spare time, something I give my time and attention to throughout the week “when I can.”
They just don’t get it, do they? I thought.
And I’m pretty sure they don’t. Despite knowing that I walked away from teaching to write and edit. Despite knowing that my book launched in March. Despite knowing that my list of WIPs grows each year when NaNo comes around. Still, writing is that thing I do on the side.
They don’t know I just passed off my current WIP to a set of beta readers. They don’t know that my editing client list is growing (but fear not—I have room!). They don’t know about my involvement with Literary Mama and Shelf Media Group and The Plot Sisters and Word’s Worth. Why? Because they aren’t hearing me, and they don’t listen.
And that, my friends, is the crux of this post. Lately, I’ve been reminded again and again that even though I’m talking, even though I’m sharing what’s happening in my life, even though I’m doing my best to keep all the details of other people organized in my brain, very few people are listening to me or affording me that same courtesy. This person wasn’t the only one to dismiss my dreams. Another email came in from someone I’ve just recently met virtually. “I can’t find your book anywhere,” they wrote. “I had so hoped to read it.” My parents taught me well, so the true response will never be sent. But . . . Really? I’m pretty sure if you do a Google search of “Rewrite the Stars Christina Consolino,” links to the book will pop up right away. [Note: I just performed that search, and the top four listings included my book at Goodreads, my website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.]
Maybe I am being too sensitive right now. The last few years have taken their toll on me. And of course, I’m not saying that I listen to every person all the time. (We’re all human, after all). But at the end of the say, all I want to do is be heard. Truly heard.
Don’t you want that too?