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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Shut up, Erin."

Want to know what I remember most about my childhood?

"Shut up, Erin."

Now, I freely admit that I was a talkative child. "Motormouth" is fair description, and I carried this trait on into adulthood. I love the sound of my own voice, which is probably why I became a writer. I have stuff I want to say, so I learned to make it interesting enough that other people want to read/listen. I also like to think that I learned the value of listening to other people, because what they have to say is important, too. But what I never learned is my place.

As in, Know your place.

As in, We'll get back to you when it's convenient.

As in, Shut up, Erin.

Being told to shut up -- not because I'm talking too much, or too loudly, but because I offend someone's sense of propriety or, worse, because I'm inconvenient -- incites a berserker rage within my breast.

No, I will not shut up.

No, I will not allow you to marginalize me.

No, I will not let you ignore me.

My family did it to me when I was growing up. I was the youngest of three children, with my brother 7 years older than I and my sister 10, so I can understand why my older siblings would get tired of the incessant babbling of their youngest kin. But that was a long time ago. I've since grown up, matured, gained some insights and learned when to keep quiet. Yet, when we all get together, it starts all over again.

"Shut up, Erin."

But I have things to say!

"Shut up, Erin."

But it's relevant to the situation at hand!

"Shut up, Erin."

But I have insight that you lack!

"Shut up, Erin."

No, YOU shut up, you arrogant, self-righteous fuckers! Just because you're older than me doesn't make me irrelevant! I have knowledge and experiences that you lack! You WILL treat me like an equal in this conversation! And if I have to physically BEAT you to get my turn to talk, then BY GOD I WILL!!

That usually gets their attention. For a while, at least. Pretty soon, I'm back to being ignored, marginalized, all but told not to worry my pretty little head over it, because adults are talking now. I'm 35, but I'm still treated as the bratty 7 year old girl who talks with her mouth full and interrupts all the time. My father still treats me this way, when he's not ignoring my existence outright.

(I swear, one of these days I'm gonna completely lose it, and get right in my dad's face and shout, "I'm sorry I'm not the son you wanted! I'm sorry I didn't follow in your footsteps and join the army! I'm sorry you regard me as a complete and utter failure! But I am a FUCKING ARTIST! I accept who I am, and if you can't, then it's YOUR goddamn failure, and not mine!")

Now, if I refuse to put up with this treatment from my
own family -- and yes, I have made good on my threats of physical violence at least once, to drive my point home -- why do other people think I will take it from them? Why do they think I will placidly eat whatever shit sandwich they see fit to feed me?

If you're reading this and wondering, Is she talking about me?, the answer is yes. I'm talking to everyone who promised to get back to me, and didn't, despite all the times I called. I'm talking to the editors who apparently can't be arsed to send me a single fucking email, despite how trivially easy it has to be to forward a form letter to me. I'm talking to people who promised me an NDA weeks ago, and still haven't gotten back to me.

Am I burning my bridges here? Could be. But you're the ones who came to me, not the other way around. You liked the fire and passion in my work, and wanted it for your projects. And I delivered that, oh yes I did. And now that you've gotten what you wanted, you're too busy to talk to me.

I don't ask for much, but one that I ask -- no, demand -- is that you acknowledge my existence out of basic courtesy. If you say you're going to send me something, then dammit, send me that thing. If you're too busy to spare me a moment of your time...

If you're too important to follow through on your promises without me having to constantly nag you...

If you have so much on your plate that it's too much to ask for you to say, "Good job on that piece, Erin"...

... then the next time you want me to do something for you, I might just be too busy to get to it.

Maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot professionally, but I refuse to be your whore. Treat me like a human being and not some cog, and I will work my ass off for you. Act like you own me and I will never earn you another cent.



Now playing: Yveline - Your Beautiful Enemy
via FoxyTunes


  1. Some people would call this 'not smart.' I call this 'stress relieving.'

    Go get 'em.

  2. You know, a few hours after posting this, I wondered if I needed to do damage control.

    I decided against this for two reasons. One, I cunningly avoided mentioning any names, so if necessary I can always claim "But I didn't mean *you*."

    Two, I've already set precedent for not apologizing or backing down. At this point it's becoming part of my literary identity.

  3. I had thought about jokingly saying "shut up," but I value my man-grapes too much.

  4. Chillax, hon. It'll be all right.

    By the way, I am quite jealous that even your tantrums are far more eloquent than what most of the rest of us can write at our best.

    Give Teh Geek and I a call some time and we'll catch up.


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