On Top of It #12 by Lisa Martens
No One Cares What You Write
As an MFA student, a writer, and an occasional blogger, I’ve met a lot of other aspiring writers. Most are beaming with hope, stewing with bitterness, and take pride in not having their shit together. And a good deal of them live in fear of the Internet, of having their precious words stolen from their hard drives, or of someone they fucked reading their stories and piecing it all together.
I have an encouraging message to all of you: No One Cares What You Write.
Let me explain. If you’re reluctant to write something because your ex who was a fantastic lover might see it, don’t worry. He probably won’t. Go ahead and describe his dick at length (well, you should probably change his name or some minor details).
Fact is: the only people who have ever griped to me about stuff I’ve written were people I didn’t even write about. They only thought I was writing about them. . . the funniest part has been that everyone who has ever assumed I was writing about them has been wrong, and the fantastic lovers, well, they’re probably too busy having sex to care. Sadly.
So write what you want . . . within reason. Don’t send a bunch of threatening letters and pretend it’s freedom of speech, and then blame me when you get arrested. This post isn’t for people hiding behind the mask of the Internet. This post is for people who have great ideas, ideas inspired by their real-life interactions . . . but who are too afraid to write about them for fear that someone they know will see it and make some connections.
Maybe a few people will. But if someone is spending that much time picking apart your writing and figuring out your psyche, they’re probably lacking in their own lives, and you don’t have to care about their opinion. It won’t be someone you’re actually afraid of. It’ll be the kind of person who will text you at length but never make IRL plans with you.
It won’t be that gorgeous slab of man meat you messaged three years ago whose Facebook profile you occasionally stalk. You know, the one whose security settings you circumvented so you could see all his photos. You’ll want him to message you and ask if that quasi-erotic fanfiction you wrote was about him, but he won’t. Because he’s probably climbing some mountain in Alaska.
Another thing—If someone is going to steal your book idea, they will only do it when the book is finished. No one is going to try to steal your actual ideas and try to create a 150,000-word novel and figure out all the characters and plot holes you haven’t ironed out. If anything, if they’ve hacked into your computer and gone that far, they’re probably going to just steal your identity and buy stuff.
So if you want to protect your credit card info, hide it in a folder labeled “novel ideas.” No one will ever, ever steal it.
Lisa Martens (Episode 22) currently lives in Harlem. In her past 10 years in New York, she has lived in a garage on Long Island, a living room in Hell’s Kitchen, the architecture building of CCNY, and on the couch of a startup. She grew up in New York, Costa Rica and Texas, and she’s still not sure which of these is home. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from CCNY. Her thesis, What Grows in Heavy Rain, is available on Amazon. Check out her website here. Follow her on Instagram here.