Saturday, April 9, 2011

Coming Out of the Closet

A few months ago if someone asked me what I did for a living, my response was either, "I'm a housewife of New Jersey" or "Oh, I'm a stay at home mom." I never mentioned that whenever I had a minute, I sat at my computer and bashed away at the keys, writing stories.

Ever since my book was published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing, however, I don't say that any more. My response is, "I'm an author." People are always interested (fascinated, even) when I tell them what I do. They ask about my book, The Night Watchman Express. They want to know about the process of creation. They want to know how I got started, and how I stuck it out for over 150,000 words of text.

And then something else happens.

On Thursday, I met a friend and her sister for coffee. The conversation turned to my job, and they asked about what I did. Then both of them began to talk about their own writing. My friend confessed that she wrote poetry. Her sister said she was thinking of writing a book reconciling new motherhood with her current field, anthropology.*

Today the same thing occurred. I was at a lunch, and when I mentioned my writing, a man told me that his daughter spent her time writing flash fiction.

I never got this kind of insider knowledge when I mentioned my housewife status.** I think that writing, or at least the act of creating something, is a topic that everyone can relate to at some level. Perhaps most  people have been struck by an idea while they were showering, or making pancakes, or driving their kids to school. Perhaps that idea is something that they know would make a great story, if they sat down and worked on it.

And perhaps that is the difference. Ninety percent of the people, having been given that idea, will let it sit in the recesses of their imaginations. It is the ten percent*** who act on those ideas, who sit at their desks and start writing or typing - slowly at first, with lots of stopping and crossing out of words, then getting faster and faster - who will accomplish the act of writing a short story, a novella, or a complete book.

I'm enjoying coming out of the closet. I was embarrassed at first, but now I'm more comfortable talking about my work and explaining what it is that I do, now that I see that the interest in my book is genuine. I also love listening to other people as they come out of the closet, describing what they write when they complete that wonderful equation; Butt + Chair = Written Work.



*Her new baby was really, really cute, by the way.

**Not that there is anything WRONG with that; 'tis a noble and difficult job.

***These numbers are completely made up.

10 comments:

LW said...

I'm glad you're more comfortable now with your "out of closet" status - it's been fascinating and gratifying to those who care about you to see it unfolding.
Interesing, too, to hear that it's brought forth the reaction from others.

Jeana said...

I still haven't officially "come out of the closet" because I once told someone I was a writer and they asked, "Oh what did you write?" as if they would have read it or something.

Christine Murray said...

I haven't come out of the closet either. I think it's because of my fear of failing publicly. Good for you though :)

Coneflower Ranch said...

Hi Alison, I found you through our mutual friend, Kara. It's so timely that I read your post. I finally got the courage to post one of the stories I wrote way back in 2001 on Friday. I went the direct to Kindle route, but it's a start. The thought of being judged and reading negative feedback held me back for a while, but now that the submit button has been hit, I guess I just have to accept it as part of the process. Loved your post! You have a new follower. :-)

jbchicoine said...

If I reveal that I write, especially if I mention I write novels, I get either a patronizing smile, or a look of disbelief. Sometimes a friend might ask how the writing is going, and when I start to tell them, they quickly glaze over. Maybe it will be different when I'm published...but I'm not counting on it.

west_2552 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
west_2552 said...

THE DIFFERENCE That's the word, Alison. Thinking about doing something and letting an idea simmer in the back of the mind OR acting on that idea. Maybe not all at once, but a little at a time. A good approach. And often, the only approach when one's time is consumed by so many other things. I think that most people would agree that the very hardest part of undertaking a new interest is taking that first step. I had been wanting to go back to school to get my degree for many years. Almost 10 years ago, I took that first step and made the phone call to meet with the director of my major. There were many, many steps after that-- radiography is a fairly grueling major-- and now I am employed in a career that I love and I feel much better about myself for having done so. For too long, I THOUGHT about completing my education, but then I finally acted on it.

I'm glad you're more comfortable now in your celebrity-dom. It's well-earned. Congratulations again on your dual careers-- they seem to work well together-- most of the time anyway, huh??!!

Meaghan said...

I haven't come out the closet yet either, Alison, so please continue letting us know how this goes. May I ask, you waited until after you had published before you told anyone about your writing? What about close friends and family? Personal curiosity, feel free to email me!

Alison said...

Good question, Meaghan, and the truth is that I was so embarrassed by my scribblings that I just didn't care to share with a lot of people. I told some family members, and a few very close friends, but that was it.

And I understand Christine's fear - and I still could fail publicly, in a spectacular fashion. But at this point, for good or for bad, I am Out.

Meaghan said...

Good for you, Alison, that is good to hear from someone coming out! Lol!