Friday 27 January 2012

Coming Out of the Writing Closet

The problem with setting up an online business (and self-publishing is a business) is that lots of people are baffled by a process where you make money without actually producing anything tangible, or leaving your own house. Some of my friends who are professional bloggers have this problem, when they're asked what they do a lot of people don't understand how they manage to keep a roof over their head.

Not that I'm keeping a roof over my head just yet - my husband is doing that while I work to keep us in expensive coffee beans.

But he set up his own company providing journalistic and copywriting services, a lot of it on the internet and is also part owner of a financial news website. Despite explaining it numerous times, a lot of our relatives still have no clue what he does. When someone asks for the nth time, it gets irritating. While it's lovely that people care enough to ask about our life, it's a bit like asking someone to repeat something they said that you didn't quite get. You can ask twice, after that it's impolite and you need to pretend you understood, slap on a smile and change the subject.

So, anxious to avoid the whole twenty minute explanation about e-books, self-publishing, and where in the name of God my two history degrees figure into the equation, I decided to avoid the situation in the only way I knew how.

I told no one in real life except my parents and a couple of close friends.

In the writerly blogging community it's easy to forget that not everybody knows that the publishing world is in a state of flux. That self-publishing is now a viable career option. It's difficult to explain without a twenty minute spiel. And honestly?

I'm not comfortable talking about myself and monopolising a conversation for that length of time. When I got engaged, I told a few people and let it all filter out. I've done the same with writing. I know that some people might feel a little bit hurt, but I just find it difficult to talk about myself. Part of being a natural introvert, I suppose.

Anyone else have the same kind of issues?

15 comments:

  1. I definitely understand where you're coming from, although I'm not self-publishing. I find it hard to make people understand I'd prefer to stay in and write/edit rather than go out. People see this as a hobby whereas I see it as another (as of yet unpaid) job.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I spend so much time within the writing community that I forget that not everyone thinks that this stuff is important, or even relevant :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Coming out of the writing closet is intimidating. I get various responses from people, but the "best" is the blank stare. I can see the wheels turning: She what? That is where writing groups and writer friends and the internet comes in fabulously. We writers understand! I wish you great success--it's definitely possible!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Heh, I feel the same way when I have to explain to people over and over again what modern dance is. "You mean like Dancing with the Stars?" they ask.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes... I say that I'm a writer and people look at me like I do nothing with my life. It's frustrating. I work hard on a novel and make nothing from it. I just love doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Definitely. I'm an introvert--talking about myself doesn't come naturally.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I totally understand. I used to get, when are you going to get a real job? I had one. I teach piano, voice, clarinet, and saxophone. My family were the worst ones except Mom who was my champion! Now that I am on disability (with a bit of teaching, not much, just enough to be able to pay the bills with the disability) I get even weirder looks at times. I just ignore now. I like how you didn't tell everyone. Wait until you have several books published!!! Then you can explain what you have been doing for the last few years!

    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know how you feel in a way. Like when I returned from a 4.5 month, 15 stop trip around the world, and everyone kept asking about where I'd been...and I was like, "Oh, all around...15 stops..." but they insisted on more detail. So I started listing stops, and after a while i could just SEE them drifting off with boredom. It would have taken probably 20 mins for me to list every place I went to, and people probably wouldn't have listened to most of it anyway ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. The only souls who know the real me AND that I write are my husband, my two daughters (but I don't think the five year old counts!) and my sister. I don't need anybody else's support or opinions. I love the internet for that- having a connection with people who have this urge to write stories too. By the way, nice to meet you! It's my first time stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know what you mean. Sometimes it's easier to avoid the conversation that you know they won't fully get. I'm planning to travel the traditional publishing route, and even that comes with a lot of misunderstanding. "Do you have to pay an agent before you sell anything? It can take YEARS??" I can imagine that it's tough with the self-publishing route too. I try to just come up with short answers to questions, since I know they don't REALLY want me to explain the whole publishing process anyway.

    Good luck with self-publishing, though! Even if people don't understand the process, hopefully they'll be interested in the book. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree it's very hard, but I think you gain confidence over time. I'm certainly a lot more confident telling people about my ventures now than I used to be.

    ReplyDelete
  12. As someone who is still "aspiring" and not published in any format, I definitely don't say I'm a writer, though, technically I am writing. I think it's common. People seem to have an odd perception about what a writer is.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello! My first visit, will visit you again. Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed your posts. Congrats for your work. If you wish to follow back that would be great I'm at http://nelsonsouzza.blogspot.com
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well ... and seriously ... so often when I tell someone I'm a writer, they reply with, "Oh yeah. I want to write a book someday, too."

    No offense people, but there's a big difference between actually doing the work and wishing for someday, but you can't really explain that to *them* ...

    WOW. That sounded really rude. Should I delete?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm nowhere near published yet, but I can imagine how difficult it is to have to explain. Right now I'm a stay-at-home-mom, but on the few occasions that if ever comes up that I'm also a writer (normally led from questions about various tattoos I have), it's normally met with something along the lines of "Oh it must be nice to have a hobby when you're just home all day." Ouch. Nope, some people just don't get it!

    ReplyDelete