As you may be aware of, I am a reader. I love reading and talking about books and stories and characters as if they were real people. I could talk about books I’ve read for ages. That love extends into my writing. I love writing, it may be difficult and frustrating, but I enjoy it on a level that is difficult to describe properly.
But do you know what I hate, even loathe? Talking about my writing.
When someone asks me about my novel or about what I’m working on, I freeze, I get awkward, and all the blood in my body rushes to my face in an attempt to mercifully blow up my brain before I need to inarticulately respond. Talking about my writing makes me feel like a special sort of idiot who regularly speaks to people with their ear buds in and proceeds to shout at everyone without realizing it.
This is a problem. A problem I never fully acknowledged I had until I read a blog post from a writer friend of mine Jean Davis of Discarded Darlings (blog post here)where she writes about this issue. Talk about other people’s work? No problem. Talk about my own? It’s like death by firing squad.
I think it’s because I fear people will laugh at me and my stories and wonder who I think I am putting my work out there. I dread what, I think, a lot of creative people fear—that they are that person auditioning for some reality talent show, and that they are so terrible but somehow don’t know it. And I hate this sensitive part of me. In most other aspects of my life I care very little of what other people think or have to say about me. But THIS is my kryptonite.
I want to fix it, I do. But it’s hard, so soooooo hard.
A few of my closest friends have read my first novel and I didn’t want to even speak about their thoughts on it because I didn’t want them to feel like they had to be nice about it, because I knew they would be. But even more so, I feared that they didn’t like it and that would have crushed me.
I find it easier to talk to strangers about my writing, because their opinions are based on just the work and their own life experiences. It’s not about me because they don’t know me. That makes it so much easier for some reason. It’s clinical, and of course while my work is far from perfect I can brush off a stranger’s opinions as simply being their own bias’. We all have bias’, it’s unavoidable.
But maybe the answer, and perhaps truth, is that it’s impossible for anyone to really know anyone else entirely. There will always be mysteries one will never share, and those friends also see the world through their own personal lenses and bias’. In this sense there is little difference between the friends and the stranger reading my work.
So now what? What’s my problem?
Perhaps the root cause of my issue is the sharing of my work. The lessening of the mystery, for my writing feels like it’s a part of me, it is me in some way, in its hopes and dysfunctions I hide and hope no one will recognize me. Maybe that’s it. Maybe. I don’t know.
And perhaps I hate talking about my work simply because I suck at summaries and any quick description of my novel I’ve rattled off makes it sound terrible and cringe worthy.
The least I can do, what I can work on the easiest, is practice a quick blurb about my book so I’m ready when someone asks me. And maybe I need to sit down and just ask my friends about their thoughts. One step at a time.
Blurb for the book as seen on Goodreads:
Quick conversational blurb:
Across the Wire is about a parallel world where men have to fight for their freedom from their oppressors—from women.
Does that cover it though? Is it interesting? Gosh I suck at this!
As for talking about your own writing, I think there's a difference between talking about the writing versus sharing the writing itself. The latter brings up fears of "is it any good?" while the former I think is more insidious. I often feel that people look on writing as easy, so saying you're a writer begs unflattering comparisons, and the dismissive "Yeah, I thought about writing a novel too. I'll get around to it one day ..."
People can be very dismissive about writing, because anyone can do it, right? Well, yes and no.
I have to work on my "elevator pitch," any thoughts on my one sentence try above?