Friday, June 24, 2011

Are you OUT?





This is a question I have for other writers: who and how many people do you tell that you are a writer? When in your writing process or career do you actually start thinking of yourself as a writer, and not just a person messing around on the computer?


A couple of years ago, it all began late one night with a blank computer screen and an idea. At first I thought: I could write a page. And when one page turned into 50, and 50 turned into a book, at first I was very, very secretive about the fact that I was trying to write a book. Little by little, my husband, kids, and very closest friends got in on my little secret. When I joined my critique group, it did get easier to identify as a writer, much in part because suddenly I was surrounded by other writers. But still, it was hard to "come out" to people.





"I am writing a book."



The reponses, well most of the time they were kind of patronizing, like, oh how cute--she is taking on a new hobby.



I think my parents thought I was having a mid-life crisis. Once I got an agent, I thought it would be easier to tell certain people, that I would have more of a sense of credibility, but then I realized that most non-writers have no idea how hard it is to just get an agent. The struggle is lost on them. I found that some just weren't going to believe it until a book was in their little hands.



My dad has asked liked a million times if I paid my agent to take my book, and, "don't you know there are a lot of scams out there?" Sigh. I guess he can be forgiven because he is a farmer, and the publishing world is about as foreign to him as growing crops are for me.



So my method is, tell only people who will give me the most positive response, and when that book hits the shelves, point them in the direction of the nearest bookstore and smile.


But what I'm really curious about, is--are there some people out there who, the day after they started writing, told people what they were a writer? That takes real bravery, I think.



Anyone out there wait until agented? Their book sold? Hit the shelves? Got a website?

10 comments:

Trisha Leaver said...

Nobody knew I was writing a book. It was like my dirty little secret. My husband found out the day my agent contract came . . . figures that would be the one day he opens the mail.

Still though, I can count the number of non-writing friends who know about my "hobby" on one hand. And you are right, they don't get how hard it is to get an agent or the emotional roller coaster we ride during the query process.

kara said...

Your husband found out the day the contract came? Wow! Way to keep a secret, girl! Thankfully my husband is VERY supportive, but with the rest of my extended family, I figure to keep it quiet until I can hand them a book. Hainvg friends who are writers is soo important, because we are a crazy bunch and no one else gets us!
Thanks, Trisha, for the comment. :)

Kelley Vitollo said...

I let people know I was writing, but no one got it. I got the "oh how cute" answer like you or I got, "Oh, I think I'm going to write one too" like it's something so easy to do! And you're right, even now that I'm agented people don't get it. They don't understand how big an accomplishment that is.

kara said...

Yes, everyone says they are going to write a book--but very few actually do. We as writers have to honor our achievements at every step--whether it be just finishing the book, being agented, selling--because each step is hard, and an accomplishment.

Christine Murray said...

I haven't got an agent, or a book deal, but I haven't told many people that I'm writing a book. Too much pressure, I think. I'm still firmly in the writing closet (stationary closet?).

kara said...

lol, stationary closet! closets are good--stay in until you are ready ;)

KO: The Insect Collector said...

I am unagented. I told my husband the day I got the idea to start my first book. My family, and all of my close friends know I am a writer. When I introduce myself to new people, I don't mention it. I also don't bring it up at my day job... but that's only because I don't think they would realize that what I am doing isn't a threat to my day job-- if that makes sense. I think people jump from "you're a writer" to "you're going to be a millionaire", without ANY sense of the reality of the publishing world.

kara said...

Oh, I so get the millionaire comment. My husband always says, write your book so I can retire. Uuuhh.....I don't think it really happens that way,lol!

Lora R. Rivera said...

I think habit more than bravery has kept me telling people "I'm a writer." Though with each passing "Oh, are you published?" my responses get a little more sheepish, a little more defensive. "Well, a few short stories in journals." "Oh, does that pay well?" Er. No. It doesn't pay....

It's hard to keep this from being crushing. But let's continue answering truthfully! Because if you write with passion and intention, you're a writer. :)

kara said...

Leave to to Lora...you're so right, I sturggle with being truthful sometimes in this area, because I try to protect my feelings from the "oh, you aren't published, yet?" remarks. But truth does set you free...if you write, you ARE a writer. :)