I have a dark secret I don’t tell most people…I write.
If someone does find out (which happens from time to time), it becomes one of the most awkward and uncomfortable conversations to have. I’m usually met with skepticism (“you’re writing a novel?”) and sometimes even suspicion. I don’t understand that part. It’s as if people don’t know how to talk to me now that they know “I write.” Like it changes who I am or more specifically their idea of who I should be.
There are, of course, the inevitable questions. What do you write? Where do you get ideas? Why do you write?
I recently had a kind of embarrassing experience when a group of people I just met found out that I write. It shouldn’t have been embarrassing, but I didn’t know how to handle the questions.
I started a new job a couple of months ago and the weekend after the second week was my writing group’s annual conference. Of course I got the inevitable question about plans for the weekend, so I told one of my co-workers. She was…shocked, I guess is the best word to describe it. It was obvious that the idea of going to a writing workshop was something completely foreign to her. And honestly, I could tell that she thought it was just really strange. But I got through the conversation, it was just one person.
Then the next Monday after the workshop my whole department ate lunch together and once I again I got the question about my weekend and my co-worker told everyone about the workshop. I don’t know if I can adequately describe how uncomfortable it was to have everyone peppering me with questions. I usually try to avoid answering questions about a specific project I’m working on, but it’s hard with six people all staring at you waiting for an answer. So I gave them the bare bones, I focused on the fact that it is set in Grand Haven. I work in Grand Haven and most of the people I work with live near there, so I thought that might be an interesting little tidbit. It almost seemed to offend them.
Then the judgement really amped up. What are you planning to do with it? Are you actually going to try to get published? How much time do you spend writing? Does your husband mind?
If I had said I knitted I wouldn’t have gotten this response.
Do you run into situations similar to this when people find out you’re a writer? Do you ever avoid telling people?
I guess I don’t understand where the suspicion comes from. So for now, I’ll just keep it to myself. Maybe I’ll bring it up again if I ever get published. That’ll show ’em.
I've been a “closet” writer for years, lol. For me it has been awkward because “I write” inevitably leads to “Are you published?” Then when I say “Not yet, still hoping” it takes on air of pathetic. Whereas if I said “I knit” (which I don't) there wouldn't be the same kind of judging going on. The thing is, I don't believe 99% of people have ANY idea how hard it actually is to get published so if you aren't they assume that you're a bad writer. Sigh.
I say be proud of it. Non-apologetic.
Most of my family doesn't know how seriously I take it. I rarely talk about it… and this will be a topic that'll have to wait until I land an agent. But a lot of my friends do, and they think it's pretty cool. Everyone has something they take very seriously — work, children, exercise, photography — what's wrong with writing a novel.
When meeting people for the first time, it can be awkward. For me, the trick is to speak as if publication is inevitable. You should be excited about what you're working on. It should be something that you can't wait to share with people. Tell them you're working on a novel, then smile.
Who knows, they may even ask you for an advance copy 😉
Wow – that's just a…bizarre…response. I've honestly never gotten a reaction like that. But to be fair, a lot of what I get is the condescending head pat, and the attitude of “isn't that adorable – she's writing a book.”
And you know what? I have faith in you. You *are* going to show them!
It's only recently I've started telling people at all, and its really only because I joined a writer's group. For some reason that has just made me a little more willing to talk about it. I agree though, 99% of people have no idea how hard it is to get published and if they did they wouldn't be so pushy about it. 🙂
I'm in the same boat with my family, I don't talk about it much to them at all. Especially after the “you're writing a novel” comment from a family member. (You have to imagine a pile of skepticism and doubt in the delivery of that.)
I will say that my close friends are very supportive of it, which is nice. I just need to learn to inject some confidence when I talk to new people, maybe it will go better next time. 🙂
I've gotten the condescending head pat response as well. I'm not sure which is worse, honestly. I'm just going to plugging away, that's the best way I can think of to not let them get to me. 🙂
Wow- I could feel the awkwardness! How strange that they should react so extreme. I've never gotten that kind of reaction, but then again, I've never been in a group situation like that. Usually I reveal it in a one on one basis, and now that I think about it, it's after I've felt it out enough to know they'll be accepting and interested.