Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Being Published Changes Things.

My daughter-in-law called tonight to congratulate me on the release of my novel Dead Witness and the subsequent interview in The Prince George Citizen. Then she said something that I'm just now pondering.

In the paper's interview, Mr. Strickland asked about my other manuscripts; I've written five, three of which are in various stages of editing. Although my daughter-in-law and I have known each other for years, she was surprised by how little she knew of my books. She had to read the interview to find out, and remarked that I never talk about myself.

I replied with what seems a trivial answer now, "I didn't want to bore you."

Did I at one time discuss my writing with someone other than another writer? Excluding my best friend? I think so. If someone asked. In fact, I'm sure I did... I think. But with the mother of young children, who -- if she isn't running ragged chasing after them -- is working full time at as a medical receptionist? Probably not. The girl has barely enough time to sit down.

Her statement has raised an issue though that I've never considered until now. Do I find it difficult to share my passion?

That old saying that writing is a solitary act... well, it's true. The next time you're visiting with a friend, try writing your Christmas newsletter. You could do both, but I doubt either would be up to par. Writing requires concentration, patience, stamina. A writer needs to draw from within. You can certain learn to write anywhere; I'm at the dining room table with the TV on in the forefront, a beautiful full moon shining diagonally across the lake and into our picture window, and my dog Bandit on the floor next to me snoring. To write effectively you need to pay attention. Actually, you want to pay attention.

Unless you're working with other writers on a collaboration or joint venture, writing is something writers do alone because it's personal.

I'm evading the issue. Sorry.

Prior to publishing Dead Witness, I chose to not speak of my work for what I'm sure was a good reason. Until I could say equivocally that my manuscripts were publish-ready, having family, friends, and readers read them left me stuck somewhere between terror and ... -- even after publishing I'm still not sure what it was? Publishing my novel changed me. I took what I considered a well-written manuscript and turned it into a book. Cover et al. Writing is not and has never been a hobby. And while I am NOW a published writer, I'm not a better or worse human being. Just different.

If I chose to keep my stories a secret, I suspect it's because they were transforming from a "What if" idea into a well rounded story. In the same way that one doesn't appear half-dressed in public? Or half-naked?

I didn't deliberately exclude my family and friends from my passion for writing, I stayed silent because ... after all this, I'm still not sure. Embarrassment? I hope not. Possessiveness? Mmm.

Then again, my first 10 drafts were pretty rough; maybe the answer is: an act of kindness.


  1. Ah yes, we continue to relate on many levels. I was never a closet writer, and I LOVE being read when I feel my novels are ready, but when asked in friendly conversation about my novels or my writing, I fight a strong urge to growl. Sometimes the urge wins.

    My worst party moment in recent history was when someone loudly asked what my novels were about. The room went quiet. All eyes turned to me. I stammered for a few seconds before announcing that I don't like to talk about my novels. The seconds it took for everyone to politely smile and resume their conversations seemed like hours.

    Yes sir, I'm the hit of any party. Ha.

  2. I can so relate. In fact, I'm thinking I must have been there. I've been in similar situations where my palms sweated and I stuttered, and then coughed. Yet, I'm okay if I hand the book to somebody knowing they're carrying off part of me.

  3. Dear Joylene: You are a true inspiration to those of us who continue to write, rewrite, edit, edit some more, dream a lot and try, try try.

    Thank you!

  4. Phyllis,

    Thank you for stopping by. And for reminding me that I'm living my dream even if it's a little lopsided.

    Stop by anytime.


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