Wednesday, January 26, 2011

pssst. i write.

when we first start writing, a lot of us keep it to ourselves. (what if people roll their eyes at me? or give me a patronizing "aw, good for you?" or worse - ask me when my book will be published??)

sometimes i worry this secretive start to writing comes from a place of shame. many writers fear that inevitable eye roll from somebody.
(not all writers, obviously. some are loud and proud about writing. others keep it private because they're simply private people!)

but i do see on forums and blogs and other such web stops - people who are quiet about writing until they actually have a book deal, because they're worried about what others will think. (yo! i was one of them! i remember smuggling my first manuscript to a friend at work and making her promise not to EVER show ANYONE.)

but why should writing be different from any other art form?
i've never been afraid to tell people i play a little guitar, because i never worried they would ask me, "oh yeah? when are you going to be a rich and famous rock star?" people just don't do that.
and it's perfectly acceptable for me to follow up my guitar-playing confession with, "and i really suck at it!" - people accept that.

but when you say you write, some folks out there will make an instant judgment call - maybe that you stink ..or that you are going to be a "big deal" ..or that writing's so easy, they'll probably write a book here someday soon too. (we've all heard that one, right?)

it doesn't seem to occur to these people that writing is something you practice, just like guitar or any other craft. it doesn't seem to occur to them that you might write just for the love of writing and not necessarily with the goal of publishing.
(fun fact: i know someone very close to me who happens to be both a talented guitarist AND a talented writer who wants neither to be published nor to be a rock star. he just enjoys being creative in his free time. hi, Dad! *waves*)

i think the secrecy is part of what feeds the huge online community of writers. we're all reaching out for people who understand the lingo, the steps, the struggles.
most everyone in my "real life" knows i write at this point, but even now - after handsome and my parents - the first people i share news and updates with are my writing/publishing friends i've met online.

so as much as i'd like to demystify writing for some of my non-author friends and fam, i'm also a little glad for the secrecy, because it's the reason i turned to the internet and found all of you.

maybe a little mystery isn't such a bad thing after all.


Michelle said...

Aw, I love this. Very good points here. I was super secret about my writing to EVERYONE, but I found a great web of support from other writer-friends through the internet! It's great.

No one in my real life knows I write though. It's still a shameful little secret that'll probably stay that way if (when?) I ever manage to make something of it.

erinjade said...

it'll be hard to keep it a secret WHEN you make something of it. ;)

but Michelle, do you have at least one or two people close to you outside of the web who know you write?

as much as i love our online community, i'm very grateful for the in-person support team i have in my parents, boyfriend and a few trusted friends.
you could do like i did and let them in one person at a time.
despite what i wrote above, some people will surprise you by becoming your biggest fans or most enthusiastic supporters.