I had an odd email exchange this weekend that started me thinking.
It began on one of the writers' groups to which I belong. We were talking about ethics and censorship when one of the members chimed in that he was unable to write about certain subjects because of his employer. In an offhand remark, I said "That's what pseudonyms are for."
The writer in question didn't answer me on the loop, but chose to respond to me individually offline. We exchanged six or seven emails over the course of this weekend. I was struck by his attitude.
First, a bit of backstory.
My childhood wasn't perfect. Whose is? My parents were very focussed on raising strong, independent children. Their standard response when any of us whined was, "Do you want something to cry about? Because I can give you something to cry about."
If one of us fell down, Mom always said the same thing, "You're not hurt. Get up." She'd wait until we failed to get up to check for broken bones and concussions.
If one of us tattled on the other, two people got punished: the wrongdoer AND the tattletale.
My parents did not raise victims. For that reason, I have very little patience with the victim mentality. If you don't like your job or where you live, get another job or move. If your lover is a jerk, leave. As a social worker, I saw too many people--both children and adults--who were truly victimized to have much sympathy for people who choose to assume a victim persona as an excuse for their own inertia.
Back to my email exchange. The essence of the writer's complaint was that, as an editor for a publisher, he spends all day "writing" and "making writers look good," but doesn't get any recognition as a writer.
I had to restrain myself from saying, "That's right. You don't get recognition as a writer when your title is editor. You'll only get that recognition when you actually write something of your own." Instead, I responded, "While I love and appreciate my editor, she is not writing my material. Nor would she ever claim otherwise."
As we started this new year, I made a list of the things I wanted for myself in 2007. I then took each item and made a list of the steps needed to accomplish that specific goal. I'll keep the list on my desk and periodically check it to make certain I'm headed in the direction I want to go. I may not get there, but it won't be for want of trying.
You can be victimized--attacked, raped, robbed--but no one can MAKE you a victim except yourself. If you want something for yourself, get out there and make it happen. 2007 is a new year, a new chance, a new opportunity. Decide where you want to be on January 1, 2008, and get busy.