Why I Don't Tell People I Write

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rosepetal720
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Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by rosepetal720 » April 19th, 2011, 12:46 pm

I want this to guest post very much bad, but I'm glad for the opportunity to discuss this on a forum. I hadn't thought of doing that.

I don’t spread around that I want to be a novelist. It’s not that I’m shy or feel too inadequate to call myself a writer; it’s because of the crazy reactions I get from people.

The Q&A Session: Often people tell me they have a book and ask how to get it published. Talk about a broad question. Someone on an airplane asked me this when we were going to land in 30 minutes. I gave him a crash-course in query letters, suggested some books to read, and most likely scared him away from publishing completely.

The Bandwagon-Jumper: When I told people in college I wanted to be a novelist, they always, always, always said the same thing: “Oh, like Stephanie Meyer?” Even my professors said this. I always responded the same way: “No. Not like Stephanie Meyer.” I write mainstream and historical fiction; I don’t write YA and I don’t like vampires.

This bothers me because they assume I sat down, read a famous book, and said, “I want to do that. It looks easy and I could make a lot of money.” I’m not a bandwagon-jumper.

The Advocate: I’m surprised at how many people give me pep talks. Not too long ago someone asked what I want to do with my life and I admitted I want to write. She said, “That’s great! You should write everyday and take creative writing classes. I know you can do it.” I don’t think this girl even knew my last name, but she knew I could “do it.” Then she asked, “Have you ever written anything before?” Instead of saying I had finished manuscripts, I just said, “Yeah, a little.”

The Head-Tapper: I can tell when people don’t take writing seriously. They all but say, “That’s nice.” Once I refused to give away the ending of my book to someone and she rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah, like I’m ever going to read it.” That was unusually blatant. Most head-tappers just ask, “What else do you want to do?” I always told them I wanted to be an editor to make them happy.

The Readers: These are the people I like. They don’t know anything about writing and they don’t care, but they like books and they want to know what I’m writing. I tell them about my book and they tell me what a great idea it is and make me feel warm and bubbly inside. What I really love is when the same people ask me years later how the book is going.

The Professionals: These people are my favorites. They recognize writing is a job like any other, wish me luck, and go on to talk about their own jobs.

Do you tell people you like to write? How do they usually respond?
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/

Moni12
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Moni12 » April 19th, 2011, 1:41 pm

I have only told my sister I write because she writes to so we're going through this together. I don't want to tell my family or friends because then they'll probably keep asking how it's going without really understanding what a long process it is (I don't think all of them would be like this though). They'd also assume I'm going for a career in writing (that would be nice, but I'll be realistic I do want other things) and pretend to be encouraging, but I can tell that in the back of their minds they're thinking "She's crazy". I'll have to tell them another rejection and listen to "Oh, it just wasn't meant to be" (so sick of hearing that).
Anyways, I don't want to tell anyone else I know until there is an offer for publication on the table or maybe even not until it is published, partly because it'd be cool to surprise my family.
There is also the thing, while I'm thinking of it, that my parents especially will want to read the book just because I wrote it. There is a satire I think my mom would enjoy, but I'm primarily a fantasy writer and I know neither of my parents would be into it, especially my dad.

rosepetal720
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by rosepetal720 » April 19th, 2011, 2:33 pm

... and then there's that horribly awkward moment when someone you know doesn't like what you write. I know not everyone will like my book so it doesn't bother me, but my friends and family feel obligated to like it and are embarrassed when they don't.
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/

Collectonian
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Collectonian » April 19th, 2011, 2:35 pm

I tell family members who care (i.e. my mom, who loves to read as well), my best friend, my blog readers, two or three coworkers who are actually friends (and even then, not much about what my novels are about), and of course my boyfriend. I don't talk about it much with any of them, though, except during NaNo, and I'll vent, cry, rave, etc with my boyfriend who patiently listens and encourages without being pushy or hounding me about it.

marion
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by marion » April 19th, 2011, 5:35 pm

When I started my blog (ibischild.blogspot.com), I not only had to tell the world that I write, but I also had to brag on myself a little (in the "About Me" section.)
So now I'm really out there and exposed. But the whole thing of writing seriously is out there & exposed, sooner or later. The blog is just taking that to a new level.
Now we'll just have to see if I can get some actual writing/revision done. I'm spending so much time & energy on the blog & Facebook.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Claudie » April 19th, 2011, 8:59 pm

I find it difficult to tell newly met people that I write because I always get the "that's not a viable career path" look. Right. It's not, at least until you've worked so hard for so long it might become one. But for most, it's not.

That doesn't mean it isn't serious.

And I hate that "Aaw, how cute" look I get -- which is increased whenever I say I write fantasy -- as though it couldn't be more than a wayside hobby, with badly crafted stories that would only be considered good by me and my mom.

I don't tell most people I want to be a writer because it doesn't match with the idea they have of a young woman finishing her studies in Biochemistry. I'm a scientist! I should be serious and grounded and all that... right? Well. Not so much. It's not worth the time and effort to disappoint them, and explain the whole writing thing.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

Kreann
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Kreann » April 19th, 2011, 9:22 pm

I know I'm new to the scene, but it seems like not telling people that you write is counter-intuitive to what I've been reading that authors should be doing, which is putting yourself out there. If you've written a piece/multiple pieces that you are proud of, and that you loved creating, then does the opinion of the few really matter? Maybe I'm coming at this from a different angle, but in the past I dabbled in sales, and one thing they always stressed was to have a plan, know where you want to go, and always have your "elevator speech" ready.

Lately, I've been wanting to shout from the rooftops that I'm writing my first novel, and dying to start on the second. And I have been telling people that I'm writing, with mixed reviews. Maybe it's because of my age, or the fact that while I'm starting down the author path I already have a full time job, so I'm not catching too much slack. (Although I did have a family member say they thought I was brave to try to write and have to face "all that rejection"...thanks for those words of encouragement, TK) Regardless, I'm proud of what I'm doing, and whether they ever get published or not, I'm still going to be proud of what I have accomplished.

So, for what it's worth, my advice to you is this - if you're proud of what you've done, don't be shy about it! You don't necessarily have to stand next to the greeter at your local grocery store and tell every patron you see what you've been doing, but don't shy away from the attention either. And who knows, some day you may be giving a stranger in an elevator your 30 second spiel, and they just might turn out to be someone who knows of an agent looking for the next best thing...

Good luck, and keep writing!

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dios4vida
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by dios4vida » April 20th, 2011, 10:28 am

Claudie wrote:I find it difficult to tell newly met people that I write because I always get the "that's not a viable career path" look. Right. It's not, at least until you've worked so hard for so long it might become one. But for most, it's not.

That doesn't mean it isn't serious.

And I hate that "Aaw, how cute" look I get -- which is increased whenever I say I write fantasy -- as though it couldn't be more than a wayside hobby, with badly crafted stories that would only be considered good by me and my mom.
Claudie, I'm so with you there! I write fantasy too and the looks people give you - like you're either slightly unbalanced, totally whacked out, or just plain sad - can really get on your nerves. I used to never tell anyone I wrote because of those looks. But after some really hard times in my life, when everything seemed to crumble beneath me and I was left hanging from a precipe that used to be my world, I had to look inward and find someway to identify myself. What I found was a little voice screaming "I AM A WRITER!" It was the one thing that I knew was completely me - not anyone's idea of me, not something I'd been pressured into being or something I was pretending to be - deep inside, I was a writer. I always have been and always will be. Whether or not I get published, whether or not the general consensus is that Brenda has lost her mind, I'm a writer. For good or bad. Better or worse. All that jazz.

So now I'm proud of what I do. I'm proud that I have the imagination and creativity to write fantasy. I don't necessarily go into dirty details about my WIP, but I'll tell anyone who asks that I'm a writer. And I stand straight and smile really big and silently dare them to say something bad about it. I let my excitement about my writing be clear. That confidence and pride usually shuts down any negative reaction they'd have had.

And I love getting that last word in. Cause whenever I walk away from something like that, I'm remembering all the losers who looked at me like I was crazy and silently tell them to bugger off.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

TheZies
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by TheZies » April 20th, 2011, 10:49 am

I found for myself that when I told no one that I wrote that I was keeping myself from committing to being a writer.

I just wrote.

but I didn't want to just write -- I wanted to be a writer.

For me, it was such a release to commit and say I am a writer. The smile and nod didn't matter. The only things that mattered were my whiteboard, my coffee and my laptop playing Mumford and Sons softly in the background.

The goal is simply to get the story you have onto the pages infront of you.
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Cookie
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Cookie » April 20th, 2011, 11:34 am

My friends, family and co-workers all know I write. Like Claudie, I generally don't tell newly met people, not because of the looks they'll give me when I tell them that not only do I write, but write fantasy (the horror!), I'm just not the type to really talk to strangers. it also depends on who it is on how much I divulge. My father for instance, knows I write and fully supports me, but I don't actually discuss the novels themselves with him. He's not much of a reader. But my brother on the other hand, I could talk for hours with him about the stories and ideas I have and how to improve them. I think that's mainly because my brother and I think so much alike that it's kinda like talking to myself.

Even with my two best friends it's like that. One doesn't read (and she's a librarian!), so we don't discuss my book other than the stages of writing I'm at. The other, is a reader and I would actually have her read passages that I wrote.

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CharleeVale
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by CharleeVale » April 20th, 2011, 11:36 am

I don't tell people because then they keep asking me when the book will be finished, *with an impatient sigh* not understanding how long it actually takes to write a competent book.

CV

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Cookie » April 20th, 2011, 11:44 am

CharleeVale wrote:I don't tell people because then they keep asking me when the book will be finished, *with an impatient sigh* not understanding how long it actually takes to write a competent book.

CV
Yes! My father is like that. I try not to discuss the publishing process, because he just does not understand it. We were discussing self-publishing the other day (he read an article about Amanda Hocking) and we were weighing the pros and cons, and when I mentioned having to pay for an editor myself, he said, "why do you need an editor when you have spellcheck?" I just rolled my eyes. Oh dad.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Nigel Haberdash » April 20th, 2011, 11:45 am

I don't tell people because I want there to be a surprise factor when I am one day published.

Me: I'm busy this week, my book drops Tuesday.

Someone I know: I didn't even know you were a writer!

Me: Well there's a lot you don't know about me, (insert person's name.) {I then make a pterodactyl balloon animal on the spot and hand it to them with a look of aloofness.}

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sierramcconnell
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by sierramcconnell » April 20th, 2011, 12:08 pm

I think there's a level of experience that comes with writing and telling people that you are a writer.

1. The Novice: Tells everyone. "OMG I am writing a book. And it's about this and this and that and that." They also defend their book with everything they have because there is nothing wrong with it. No. Not even that. SHUT UP.

2. The First-Betaer: Has realized that it's not as good as they thought. Dear God. Did they really think it was that great? If they made it this far and finished the thing, and are making it through the beta, they tell a few people they are editing a book. Which makes people think the are an editor. Which leads them to correct that they are a writer. Which gets them the same conversation over and over, and suddenly, it's not so fun anymore.

3. The Weary Worker: Has. Been. Editing. For. Too. Long... They tell no one. Almost. Every now and again they hit a point that makes them so super excited they want to tell someone and squee and depending on the response they might tell more. If they get a bad one they remember why they suck so bad in the first place.

4. Almost to Querier: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! "If I tell people, they will STEAL IT." This is also known as ferral protection of manuscript syndrome. Stay away from the author at all costs. They will stab you with a book binder.

5. Finished, Queried, and Waiting: Actually, let's not talk about it. It's too painful.

6a. Rejection: "I have a book. It's not published yet, but it will be soon." If someone says something like, 'maybe you should work on it some more' feel free to punch them in the eye and run away. Don't forget to steal their coffee. You might need that for the work you'll be doing on that backup manuscript just in case this one doesn't work out.

6b. Acceptance: "OMG I HAVE A BOOK AND IT'S GOING TO BE PUBLISHED." Random strangers are going to wonder what nutjob is saying this to them and if you have a book that's going to be published, they'll remember your face and hope it's on the jacket so they'll know to avoid you. Please stop going insane.
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by sierramcconnell » April 20th, 2011, 12:13 pm

dios4vida wrote:
Claudie wrote:And I hate that "Aaw, how cute" look I get -- which is increased whenever I say I write fantasy -- as though it couldn't be more than a wayside hobby, with badly crafted stories that would only be considered good by me and my mom.
Claudie, I'm so with you there! I write fantasy too and the looks people give you - like you're either slightly unbalanced, totally whacked out, or just plain sad - can really get on your nerves.
I think people are just jealous because while we might be slightly insane due to hearing thousands of voices all screaming for a page in a book, their only excitement through the day is sitting at a desk watching a pen go click-click. Click-click. Click...click.

Wow.

I'll take my t-shirt wearing, coffee drinking, crazy doll-lady sterotype and roll wit' it. I like being a fantasy author. Ooh. I said author and I'm not even published. But I have been favorited and emailed several times for my other fictions. ;3
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