You see, I recently replied to a blog post about whether it’s wise or not to admit to being a writer if asked.
This is a real battle for a lot of us author types who are very happy, content and confident in our own skins. But when we stray into the outside world, things ca become a little…complicated. Once we encounter the tumultuous river of humanity who are curious and not on the same end of the Myers-Briggs scale as we are, it can be a nightmare. Largely because it exposes to the daylight that squirming snake of doubt that writhes inside us all. Because, though most of us are at one with what we do and enjoy the imaginary landscapes we inhabit, what we seek (actively or subconsciously) is validation.
The ‘V’ word can come in many forms; completing the novel, getting it up there on amazon, e-publishing a honed and finished product, maybe finding an editor who likes it, seeing it on a shelf, getting a 5 star review from a stranger, someone actually buying it… any or all of the above.
These little triumphs are what help us on our way. And yet there is the constant clarion call to build a platform and blog and, worst of al—and in extremis—occasionally contacting the press. And if you think that telling your hairdresser is a strain, just wait until the local ‘arts’ reporter turns up with a photographer who wants you, if you write thrillers, to look menacing and hold a scalpel in your hand or, if you have a child in a pram who falls asleep after a walk, to pose for a tear-jerking snap of you writing a paragraph on a coffee shop napkin.
Whatever it is it’ll reek of gorgonzola and be accompanied by banal questions like, ‘and do you hope one day to see your work made into a film one day?’.
You want to scream yes, of course, who wouldn’t–what bigger validation is there other than a worthy prize? But if you are caught on the hop and you do say yes with a little deprecatory nod and a suitably shy smile, just know the article title will be, ‘local author yearns for Hollywood success,’ or some other cringe-making BS which will send you scurrying out to buy all the copies you can so that you can burn them.
However, the press are a mirror of how the public sees us.
Their readers, like passing acquaintances at parties, are driven by curiosity. Most will never have tried to write, often have an abhorrence of the very thought and will have no conception of the craft and the process and the hours involved. But then neither do they have any conception of the freedom and the joy and the sense of achievement.
So don’t worry about it. My advice?
If the topic comes up, and it is never me that broaches it, I just say I write in my spare time and generally, because I’m a good Myers-Briggs listener, the conversation usually travels along the lines of, ‘Really, I had a great idea for a book once’ , or, ‘I don’t read books much,’ or, ‘what sort of stuff, I only read vampire romance myself,’ and then, usually, there’s an end to it.
Or you can, like me, try and avoid parties like the plague and content yourself with spending time with those close to you who know you are a slightly weird (but maybe likeable) conundrum of a person who can be a situational extrovert or, just as often, a social clam. Or buy some barbed wire to shut out the press. I’ve got several rolls now and they fit very neatly, when I’m not using it for something else, in my bushel.