Friday, 1 April 2011

Close Encounters...

Nothing UFO related (apart from those saucers over there with the tea cups, the ones disgorging tiny aliens who are trying to steal the biscuits). I digress. There’s all the usual at the bar, he says, sliding the absinthe out of sight. Tea, coffee, soya milk shakes, ginger beer, biscuits… ah, biscuits are off. Fruit cake instead.

The encounters I had in mind are those in which it becomes known to others that you write. How has that gone? Or do you not tell?

I keep quiet about it these days unless in the company of other writers. It saves a lot of explaining. Because there does seem to be a lot of ignorance about what writing involves and a considerable number of assumptions seem to be made. There are all the usual questions about what you’ve written and who your publisher is, and so on, as well as the assumptions that lie behind questions like those (for example, that you are not a writer unless you’ve been published). There are others as well. Someone I once had a conversation with could not understand why a published writer would be living in a Council flat. I’m not sure they believed me when I gave a few statistics about the earning power of authors and the conditions under which they work (a couple of years on a project with no guarantee it will even be sold, let alone anything else).

So, have you encountered this at all? Do people give you funny looks and sidle out of the room? Are you fĂȘted? Do people really understand what it’s all about?

9 comments:

Karen said...

I tend not to talk about it much these days because of those assumptions etc. People who don't, as you say, understand the industry can't understand why I haven't got a published novel to show for my efforts by now! Even when I used to talk about it the response would be 'ooh, are you going to be the next JK Rowling?' Sigh.

Lovely fruit cake - thank you :o)

Leatherdykeuk said...

*eyes the absinthe*

I hide behind the persona of 'writer' in general life. It allows me a lot of latitude among the family and a room of my own to write in (game? What game?). They are still amused by my 'got something published' dance.

In public life I keep quiet about it. The writer's group I belong to are unaware I've been published, let alone have a novel in a university literature curriculum. One of the groups online also think I'm a newbie writer and shoot my opinions and critiques down. At twenty-something thay already know everything about writing. Bless.

andewallscametumblindown said...

I haven't had any annoying comments, but then I've never given the impression that my writing is any more than a hobby.

I'll have fruit cake and milk shake, please. Oh - soya. OK, I'll try a bit. ~Miriam

Debs Carr said...

I don't talk about it much either. At my previous job, which I didn't enjoy at all, I was moaning about the work, when a colleague said, "Well if you finished that book you wouldn't have to work again". If only it was that simple!

Denise said...

Oof, not the absinthe...

I no longer mention that I write, so don't get too many comments any more. The people at work that know have got bored of asking why nothing is published yet and most of my friends understand that it's not that simple! I think my parents are under the impression that I just need to finish the novel, as surely it will be so good that it's bound to be published :-)

sheepish said...

I think I go along with all the comments. Mostly it's easier not to mention that I'm trying to write. Or that just because I've finished the first draft of wip one it doesn't mean it's going to appear in print anytime soon!!! It can be a lonely life, sigh!! Oh enough of this it depresses me just thinking about what still needs to be done to wip one. Much easier to get on with wip two. And keep quiet when people ask me what I do with myself.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Keeping quiet about it does seem fairly common. Such a shame as being able to create using words is something to be proud of. I suspect the general reticence of writers contributes to the work they do being devalued. Difficult one.

Annieye said...

I used to be so ashamed of being a writer, only my close family knew I loved to write. I decided to come out of the closet in 2007 and feel more comfortable about it now.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Great post and comments - yes, have had the 'JK Rowling' digs, the 'oh dear' when you say you write women's fiction, the assumption that you're set for life once you're published. Best of all are the non-writer's declaring they might 'knock a novel out' seeing how 'easy' writing is :)