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Friday, June 24, 2011

Is your Writing on the "Down Low?"

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?

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