Why I Don't Tell People I Write

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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Quill
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Quill » April 21st, 2011, 3:59 pm

I've told many people that I'm working on a novel and I've yet to have one roll their eyes or give me a doubtful look. Invariably they are surprised and excited. Often they ask me what it's about. When I give them my one sentence pitch they sound enthused. Usually they say, "Wow, I'd like to read that."

Not sure why many of the posters here have received negative feedback. People think writing and writers are cool.

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

Post by sierramcconnell » April 21st, 2011, 4:23 pm

Quill wrote:I've told many people that I'm working on a novel and I've yet to have one roll their eyes or give me a doubtful look. Invariably they are surprised and excited. Often they ask me what it's about. When I give them my one sentence pitch they sound enthused. Usually they say, "Wow, I'd like to read that."

Not sure why many of the posters here have received negative feedback. People think writing and writers are cool.
I think it has to do with region. Not that I'm calling Kentucky stupid. There are plenty of intelligent Kentuckians. But they're all at home reading. Not out on the street trying to kill people with their cars like the morons I encounter every day trying to roll me over while I'm crossing WITH THE LIGHT. Idiot. It's called a crosswalk. Not a duck hunt. This isn't Chuck E Cheese, and you're not going to get tickets for plowing me down.

[cough] Anyway, when I tell people I'm writing a book, it's difficult to say, "it's about dead people".

"Like, zombies?"

"Not really. They're brought back to life by the Watchers."

"The who?"

[muttered]"God, read your freakin' Bible..."[muttered] "The Watchers? The ones in the Bible?"

"Pthhh, so it's a Christian book."

"Yeah. It's a Christian book."

"Are you trying to make a living or something? Cause you might want to find something more interesting to write about."

[BOOK SMACK DOWN\BIBLE THUMPING]

Hence why I can't talk about my book. I might get arrested or I'll get to a point where I can't hide the bodies.
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The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.

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

Post by Claudie » April 21st, 2011, 7:09 pm

dios4vida wrote: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.
That is hilarious. A perfect example of how little people understand about the writing process, sometimes.
Kreann wrote: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.
It should be noted my intended audience isn't the people around me. I live in a French province and intend to publish through the american industry. It does mean my friends/coworkers/family aren't much of a platform. Half of them don't have the mastery of English necessary to read a whole novel in the language.

On the internet and among friends, I don't shy from saying it. I'm proud to be a fantasy writer. It's an undeniable part of me now, one I cherish above most others. I have a wild imagination. It's liberating, when you've been tagged as the scientist (still am, still love to be one) while your sister was, without doubt, the artist (she is, and an awesome one). Everyone has some creativity in them. I'm happy I've found my niche, and loved it enough to pursue a career in it.

Sierra, those new "types" are hilarious.
"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

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Aimée » April 21st, 2011, 8:28 pm

When I told one of my friends that I am a writer, she said, "I've heard getting published is really hard." I was like, "Um, uh, yeah, I know that..." What else was I supposed to say?

I usually don't tell people I'm a writer either. Most people don't take me seriously.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by TheZies » April 21st, 2011, 10:12 pm

I've sat here for the past view minutes thinking. And watching basketball. but mostly thinking.

And only a simple question comes to mind, and I'm not even sure really how to answer it.

Why does there seem to be such contempt toward someone's reaction?

and maybe a bigger question:

why does that reaction matter?
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by rosepetal720 » April 22nd, 2011, 1:09 pm

Quill wrote:I've told many people that I'm working on a novel and I've yet to have one roll their eyes or give me a doubtful look. Invariably they are surprised and excited. Often they ask me what it's about. When I give them my one sentence pitch they sound enthused. Usually they say, "Wow, I'd like to read that."

Not sure why many of the posters here have received negative feedback. People think writing and writers are cool.
Interesting. I wonder if having a good pitch makes all the difference. If you can show people in ten seconds or less that you actually have an idea worth pursuing and you know how to go about pursuing it, maybe they'll react differently. That could be good practice for agents.
TheZies wrote: Why does there seem to be such contempt toward someone's reaction?

and maybe a bigger question:

why does that reaction matter?
When you say "matter," that's vague. Different reactions matter to different people in different ways. For me, it's not like any of the reactions make me run home crying and lose faith in myself as a writer. It's just annoying. Explaining to people what being a writer is like is more work than it's worth.
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
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wilderness
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by wilderness » April 24th, 2011, 4:49 pm

Quill wrote:I've told many people that I'm working on a novel and I've yet to have one roll their eyes or give me a doubtful look. Invariably they are surprised and excited. Often they ask me what it's about. When I give them my one sentence pitch they sound enthused. Usually they say, "Wow, I'd like to read that."

Not sure why many of the posters here have received negative feedback. People think writing and writers are cool.
Let's just say you're lucky.

Actually, it's not so much that it's all negative feedback but it can be painful anyway. Even my friends who are enthusiastic have very little idea about the process and especially how long it is. I simply get tired of having to respond that no, there's nothing new to report. Still writing and revising. I have a day job so ask me in a year or so.

As for the eye-rolling, I think certain genres get the worst of it. YA, sci-fi, fantasy: instant "that's cute". Ugh.

Someone mentioned that we're authors and we should be out there promoting ourselves. I will absolutely do that -- at a later stage. I know a lot of unpublished writers have blogs about the writing process, and that's great. Me, I'd rather spend my energy on my WIP.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by siebendach » April 24th, 2011, 9:59 pm

Why don't I tell people I write?

Becuase nobody wants to hear it.

The blogs and message boards where writers congregate are an important outlet for me, to talk about my trials and tribulations (or more often, just read the impressions of others who are going through the same thing). I enjoy that very much.

As far as the rest of the world goes --- people who don't write, or aspire to write --- I certainly hope they'd like to read my story. But I don't assume they want to hear all about the process. After all --- I don't want to know every little thing about their professions and hobbies, either.

A part of me worries about being "that guy" who goes on and on about the tiniest details of the process of writing his WiP, for years and years, while seeming (to the uninitiated, at least) of never accomplishing anything.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by chvyg80 » April 25th, 2011, 4:06 am

I've told several people that I write, but it is something Í've casually done my entire life. When I was younger, I thought about going to school for journalism, thinking it would be the best career path for some like me, who likes to write. I soon changed my mind and went for the generic label of Business instead. Last year, when I turned 30, something occurred to me; I still hadn't completed my first novel yet. Not that I ever expected to get paid for it (although I can daydream of what it would be like to have a successful novel), it was something that I've always wanted to do. After completing my first Ms, and getting so much positive feedback from people (not necessarily on the book, but just by the fact that I sat down and wrote one), I realized that I had been neglecting that little voice inside my head for so long. When I first set out to get my MS done, I told quite a few people, (I deal with a lot of people at work). But now I only bring it up when the conversation goes in that direction. It is nice to have someone ask me how it's coming along, even a year and half later. I find that most people are genuinely impressed and wish me good luck, or maybe it's just my positive personality...I don't know. I definitely don't hide the fact that I'm a writer, although I don't go around telling strangers either.
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by trixie » April 27th, 2011, 1:56 pm

chvyg80 wrote:After completing my first Ms, and getting so much positive feedback from people (not necessarily on the book, but just by the fact that I sat down and wrote one), I realized that I had been neglecting that little voice inside my head for so long.
Yes. This.
My friends and family have been supportive of my writing and everyone says, "Oh! I can't wait to read it when you're done!" While I know this comment comes from a place of love, I can't help but feel like it's somehow condescending.

And I think it was Claudie who really hit the nail on the head. When people ask what I'm writing and I fumble mumble over "It's kind of YA fantasy," they instantly get this blank look on their face and I wonder if they are now retracting their offer to read it. 9 times out of 10, the conversation ends with, "Oh, wow. Well good luck!"

So, I keep it to myself. No one has been mean to me or outright rude, but I'm a fragile writer in desperate need of thicker skin. So until I have better coping skills, I'm keeping this to myself. And my blog.

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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by Claudie » April 27th, 2011, 2:06 pm

I can't help but think that what really matters is that you are comfortable with what you're doing. There's a problem if you don't tell others because you're ashamed. I'm not. I have told the people that mattered and when asked more questions (and this is where the blank look usually comes), I have answered truthfully. I have decided that I prefer to be open about this to my family and some of my friends, but that it's not worth it for coworkers.

When you think about it, this is a fairly normal dynamic. We don't tell everything we do or want to do to coworkers (and in some cases to friends, depending on how close they are). It's a healthy barrier to have, no?
"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

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

Post by rosepetal720 » May 19th, 2011, 9:15 am

Thank you for posting this on your blog, Nathan!
Author of Sacred Fire, a historical fiction of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.
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Re: Why I Don't Tell People I Write

Post by HumorWriter0910 » May 24th, 2011, 10:46 pm

I can't help it--I have to tell people. It's too much a part of me not to. Plus, once you have enough people tell you: "Your humor's great, but you need a platform," it becomes a necessity to ask each and every person you come across to pretty please follow @KnowWhosAwesome on Twitter (http://twitter.com/KnowWhosAwesome).

Sorry. Force of habit. :)

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