Yesterday on Facebook, a friend of mine referred to me by name. It led one of his friends to reply, "Who?"
It's an innocent enough question, coming as it did from someone I've never met and who lives hundreds of miles away. Still, oh, the pain! Specifically, I think it stung because the friend who tagged me is a working journalist who likes my writing and was vaguely referring to it.
About 10 years ago, when I was a columnist and freelance reporter, my sister told me about an encounter she'd just had. She was taking a course at the local public-access TV station, and one of the instructors there was a writer. She offhandedly mentioned that I was a writer too, and he asked who I was. She said, "Ian McGibboney" and — I'll never forget how she mimicked his apparent reaction — he immediately said, "never heard of him." She aped a flourish that suggested, "I wish you hadn't wasted my time by assuming I'd be familiar with such a plebe. Moving on!"
I had and still have no idea who this guy is; but if that account is accurate, I hate him.
Some model in Maxim once said that she wanted to be so famous that she couldn't even walk down the street or get groceries. I've never been (that much of) a narcissist, but it is nice to feel valued for the skills that one has. In that respect, writing can be frustratingly lonely — it's a tool of people who want to be heard, but there's so much noise that it's easy to be silenced.
So no matter how realistic I try to be about it, I still hurt inside whenever someone isn't familiar with what I do (and in turn, what I am about). It means I've failed in my own personal goals. I don't know what to do about it. Develop a healthy perspective, maybe?