Today I saw a kid with a T-shirt that offended me.  I’m not sure if it was meant to be funny or not, but regardless, I am now irate.

It said “Career Paths,” followed by two check boxes.  The first said “Writer” and the second said “Ninja.”  They were both checked off.  How dare you.  How dare you compare those two things in front of me?  You think becoming a ninja is as easy as becoming a writer?

Okay.  Calming down now.

Clearly the people who made the shirt have a sense of humor (and by that I mean they think putting “ninja” next to any everyday concept makes it funny), and I’m sure they had shirts like that for almost every profession.  But as someone who’s sensitive about his chosen area of study, seeing the kid’s shirt really raised my writer hackles.

This came right on the heels of another incident that had a similar outcome.  My brother is just starting his freshman year of college as a writing major, and he moved into his dorm yesterday.  As he was getting his room set up I went out to eat with my mom, who implored me not to convince my brother to stay away from activities he was interested in just because they were unpractical.  I thought are you kidding? I just spent the last four years studying a field that is quickly becoming digitized and that some say is drying up altogether, and you think I’m going to tell people it’s not worth pursuing?

Absolutely not.

I put great writers at the same level of genius as Einstein, and at the same level of greatness as Olympic athletes.  I’m the first to admit that only the best of the best are going to make it big in the writing scene—and I’m the first to admit that I’m not among them.  But I think what writers do is important and deserves respect.  I’ve fought my way through the trash written by professionals who think that because they’re smart, they can write.  Non-fiction books so boring they turned my brains to jello.  News stories so unethical I almost cried.  I’ve even seen children’s books poorly done, and that seems pretty tough to do.

As journalist out of work, it’s easy to get defensive.  I guess it was the implied ninja comparison that really got to me.  I would have preferred a more respectful treatment, like this one:

Now that’s a sentiment I can get behind.

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