This weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to Robert A. Heinlein. I don’t know much about him and after doing some research I admit I feel pretty stupid for not knowing his name. He was a great American science fiction writer and wrote some pretty popular books such as Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land, both of which I’ve added to my “to-read” list. He is often referred to as the “dean of science fiction writers” and was very influential in the genre. He worked to increase the quality of writing in science fiction as well as the plausibility in the story telling.
From everything I have read he was an incredible author. He won many awards and popularized many terms in the english language such as “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”, “waldo”, speculative fiction, “pay it forward”, and space marine and even anticipated the invention of the waterbed and the cell phone.
I plan to learn much more about Heinlein in the near future. I know if I want to be a writer I should read the greats and I can see he is one of them, and even just gathering bits of info for this post I can already tell I am going to be a fan.
I wasn’t really into science fiction growing up and didn’t know anyone else who was either, which explains my ignorance, but I am quickly learning that many of the great American authors wrote science fiction so I must give it a try. But, then again, I do like dystopian novels, which I guess would be a sub-genre of science fiction. So I guess I am a fan but I need to broaden my horizons and read more books outside of just the dystopian plots.
“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
I first read this quote over a year ago, when I first began to think about writing as something I could seriously do. I found it very amusing but couldn’t quite figure out what Heinlein was trying to say about writing being something that could be considered shameful. That was until much later, when I started talking to people about my writing.
Whenever I bring up writing I discuss it as if it really were something to be ashamed of, my voice gets quiet and shaky and I notice the other person always gets a peculiar look, as if I am relieving too much. Their face says “ew, TMI!” and I feel like I have just discussed a weird, masturbatory habit. After I say what I have to say the other person always changes the subject as if to say, “I can’t believe you brought that up, let’s move on and I’ll pretend you didn’t defile my ears with that disgusting talk”.
I have a friend who calls the talks writers and artist and other creative types have among themselves as a “circle jerk”. Actually, to be fair, he describes any lengthy talk among like-minded people that way. He’s saying we get together and talk about how interesting what we do is, and how everybody ought to be doing it, and how awesome we are for knowing how awesome doing it feels, and we work ourselves up to an excited frenzy and if feels a lot like masturbating in a group. I think my friend is right but none the less it is a necessary activity that increases our dopamine levels and makes us happier people over-all.
In addition to that, when I am writing, I do prefer to do it alone, secretly, and away from judgmental eyes. I don’t like anyone to see and doing it in front of others seems just wrong and….dirty. Like a mother trying not to give her kid a complex I tell myself that writing is nothing to be ashamed of, but I must do it in my own room and with the door closed. I must never talk about it in public because it is a private thing and I must always wash my hands after.
Original Image by English: Sgt. Mark Fayloga [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons