I had a quick trip to Massachusets this weekend, which means a lot of driving for one day. So I didn’t want to do much when I got home. And it’s been a while since I’ve cleared my to-read list on my Google Reader, so I went back in to see how bad my “unreads” had gotten. Let me tell you, it was pretty bad.
But one of Nathan Bransford’s headlines caught me, and I actually read the whole thing. It was a guest blog asking the question “Do you tell people you write?”
This is actually something I’ve heard many other writers and authors talk about, with mixed answers. Everyone has their own reasons about the response they give.
I’ve heard a lot of romance and fantasy/sci-fi/horror writers give the excuse that they don’t want their fellow church goers to know about it because they’ll think it’s a weird hobby (there are quite a few who don’t keep mum too, mind you). I’ve heard others say it makes them look like underachievers or something like that, because it’s not a “useful” profession, and that’s why they keep it quiet.
Me, I certainly tell people I’m a writer—when it’s appropriate. That means when I meet new people in social situations; not, let’s say, at work in idle conversation before a meeting at my office job. But I will say that most of the people I work with, who know me, know I am a writer and cannot wait to buy my books.
I think the biggest reason I don’t hide my writing is that I like to see the surprise in people’s faces (yes it’s usually there). No, I don’t subscribe to the normal desk or retail job scene. And, I even like to see the slight censure in other people’s faces before they ask, “and how’s that working for you?” I’m kind of an ass that way, I guess. I love a challenge and ;) I love to be contrary. In this way I think I’m opposite many of the folks who keep mum.
I can get away with this because I am a very hardworking and driven person. No one could accuse me of being lazy or too unmotivated to make my way in the real world. I also have a unique reason for being this way (yes I’m making an excuse for myself). I have two degrees in writing (a BFA in creative writing and an MA in Popular Fiction from respected schools). I consider that back-up enough for any scoffing I might get from the unsuspecting non-writer. I can make writing a novel sound as technical as dissecting a fugu. I can talk about the origins of my genre, and others; and the importance of various literary figures throughout the ages. And as the other Scribists can attest, I can take anyone to task on grammar and style applications.
Aside from my personal preferences, spilling the beans that I’m a writer should, by all logic, help my sales. If people know my name, I think that would motivate them to buy my book. I mean, if I know an author personally I sure as hell go buy their books. But seeing as I don’t yet have a book on sale, most of the time I get new email addresses to add to my “newsletter list.” It shows that people really are interested.
Because I don’t mind some funny looks, there are so few instances when telling people I’m a writer could have negative consequences. And it’s pretty easy to figure them out. So I say, why not open my mouth when I want to?
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