Thursday, October 05, 2006

leaving the light on


I don't normally take my writer anywhere. When I step out the door I am no longer a writer. I leave that skin in my house. And I don't think I wear it here on my blog that often either. If I do, I'm usually standing outside looking in. writing is what I do; it's not who I am. Often I go a year or two without wearing the writer skin socially or in public, and if I do it's only for an hour or two. I tend to hang out with people who aren't writers, and if I meet someone for the first time my job often doesn't even come up. I don't even think about it. I think this is why I have such a hard time at conferences. Suddenly I am a writer. All day long. It's a very, very strange and surreal feeling, but stranger still is my own psychological reaction to the whole thing. I don't understand it. when I leave the house, I don't want to think about writing. I want to shed that. If someone mentions one of my books, I'm startled. I have to give myself a mental shake and remember that, Oh yeah, that's something I do when I'm in this certain place. That's right. I have a friend who likes to tell people I'm a writer when we are out in public. I know she thinks she's doing me a favor, but I've had to ask her to please stop. All of this really hit me after getting back from bouchercon. I felt a weight had been lifted. Suddenly I could shed that writer skin and welcome myself back. Not that I'm any different when I'm wearing the skin. That's what's so confusing. It's just some blinking light that's usually off when I leave the house. And having it on makes me feel confused and scattered. It's like something else I have to keep track of when I'd rather just leave it at home. raise your hand if you're confused.

23 comments:

Kelly Parra said...

I understand. I haven't gotten comfortable saying I am one to other people outside of cyberspace, and maybe I never will. Everytime I say it the look someone is giving you changes...it's weird. My difference is I feel a little more comfortable around other writers, like I'm not so different. haha

anne frasier said...

kelly, that's so true about the people who aren't writers. the people i meet outside writing circles couldn't give a shit unless i write a book that's being made into a movie or is being talked about everywhere. and the fact that they are being presented with something they can in no way reference makes them uncomfortable. saying i'm a writer can be a real conversation killer. :D maybe that's one reason i learned to leave it at the door.

Sandra Ruttan said...

People are always wondering if they should tell you stuff, if it'll end up in a book...

pattinase (abbott) said...

When people introduce me as a writer, even though I do technical writing for a living and have published two dozen stories, I deny it, saying, "nothing you've read, I'm sure." or "just something I fool around with." Is this a female problem?

anne frasier said...

sandra, or then there are the people who want to tell you stuff so it WILL end up in a book. :D

patti, i always tell people, "You haven't heard of me." Wave of hand. "It's no big deal." And I don't think I've ever run into anybody who HAS heard of me. they always feel bad about that, so i try to beat them to it by telling them it's okay.


i wonder if this reaction by us is partly because it's too close and too personal. and sometimes too painful. i'm definitely holding these strangers back and away from me.

anne frasier said...

and maybe it boils down to protecting the privacy of writing, because i think writing is a very private thing.

Tami said...

I'm not published but I kind of have the same thing as far as feeling uncomfortable telling people that I'm TRYING to get published. My family (including my nosey mom) doesn't even know that I write whatsoever. The great part is when she googles my name (because she gets really bored at home and thinks it's fun/cool because I come up on IMDB and other such sites from my previous/current day jobs) my blog comes up but she never clicks on it because she figures "why would she have a blog about writing?"

Anyway, there are only about 5 close people that know I'm seriously writing/trying to get published. I know that they won't bug me asking "how's it going", "what are you writing", "what's your story about." I already give myself enough pressure as it is, I don't need my mom calling me every day asking me about it.

(wow, this is kinda long. Sorry for the rambling comment.)

anne frasier said...

tami, and since i'm as nosey as your mom and i now know your last name since you won the CD, i just googled you! haha! that's so cool that you come up on IMDB.

before i was published, i told very few people i was writing. most (all?) acted like i was a delusional idiot. i thought after i sold my secretive attitude would change, but it didn't very much. because i also quickily discovered that family and friends just thought i'd paid to have my books published, or that i was getting taken somehow. total strangers were much more supportive than family or friends in those early, struggling stages.

Jaye Wells said...

It's hard for me to take off my writer's hat. Since I stay at home with my kiddo, it's my escape. But my addiction to blogs and my writers groups can sometimes make me feel burnt out. Of course, I'm also new at this so my zeal keeps me focused on writing a lot. I guess I'm looking for that balance, too.

It's good to have writer friends who understand, but my non-writing friends help me keep some perspective.

Bill Cameron said...

I seem to be in the stage where everyone around me is anxious to talk about it but I'm shy about it. Went to a birthday party a few weeks ago and when I walked into the restaurant the birthday boy stood up and said, "This is Bill. He's got a novel coming out!"

Oh, Lord.

Maybe it was a clever ruse to deflect attention off of himself, but suddenly I got all the polite questions. Folks were nice, but I wasn't coming to the party to pitch my novel. My wife chided me for having no cards. I kept coming trying to bring the conversation back to, "Well, what do I know anyway. I'm a noob. Tell me about yourself!" (Please.)

I think I will be fine with the promotional stuff when the venue is right. At B'Con, if someone asked I was happy to talk. But when I'm just looking to hang with friends, well, my solitary avocation just doesn't seem that interesting to me.

Helen Brenna said...

I've been thinking about this one all day and still haven't figured it out. My 1st book doesn't come out until February, so I haven't had to BE a writer yet. I do feel like other writers, people who don't know me well, at my writers group look at me differently since I've gotten published. Then there are others, non writers, who find out I write Harlequin Superromances and they start thinking porn. Wow.

Writing is a very strange profession.

anne frasier said...

jaye, i agree about balance. i don't think i've spent enough time with writers over the years, but my non-writing friends are definitely make it easier for me to completely turn off that part of me and get away for a while.

bill, i definitely think it depends on the individual person. you are excited about your first book, and when you talk about it your story sounds fascinating. i've gotten to the point where i kick my book out the door and don't think much about it once it's done. and if i do try to describe it, eyes glaze over so i try to leave that to someone else. but the birthday party thing would have made me want to crawl under a table. :D

anne frasier said...

helen,
LOL!!!!!!

oh my god! i remember those days! my poor kids! having a mom who wrote porn! :D when they reached high school, my children's classmates would read the sex scenes aloud in the school cafeteria. my poor kids!!!

Christa M. Miller said...

Now that's interesting. Writing is part of who I am, so I'm a writer when I leave the house too - even though it often fades into the background while I'm being a mom or a wife or just another suburban chick shopping. ;)

When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a freelance writer. That way they know I make money at it and I'm not just dabbling. (Yes, I have a horrid pride thing.)

Also, being a known writer lets me get away with all kinds of social faux pas, like zoning out on conversations or hiding in bathrooms with my PDA, just so I can escape said conversations.

Oh, and it lets me get work done. I guess that's the most important thing of all - time is at such a premium that if I can grab a few minutes at the playground or doctor's office or whatever, there's 500 or however many new words. If I left it behind, I'd never get anything done! ;)

Jeff said...

"writing is what i do; it's not who I am."

This holds true with other professions as well. I know when I leave my job, that's what I want to do, leave it. It's what I do, not who I am.
Men have this annoying habit when meeting other men to immediately ask, "So, what do you do?" It's a male/macho/ego thing that drives me nuts! I usually say something like, "I work in health care" and then quickly try and change the subject.
I'm thinking the next time I'm asked that question I'll just say, "I write porn."

Anonymous said...

Martina said....

Jeff...I'll have to remember that!! But what do you do if the guys ask to read some of your "porn"?

Helen: yes, writing is strange and elusive beast...but we just keep chasing it. And odd how romance, particularly Harlequin romances, can't seem to get past that stigma.

Anne...thanks for your thought provoking topics. And to everyone else for keeping these discussions so interesting. Blogging has never been my thing...but now I look forward to coming here to see what's new.

anne frasier said...

christa: you are probably completely confident with who you are -- writer and mom. well-adjusted, i'd say!

jeff: LOL!!!!! i dare you!

martina: i'm working on getting you addicted. ;)

you are so right about the stigma of H romances. and superromances are really almost single titles, but people outside romance don't know one from the other. smut! it's all smut!! read it, then burn it, as my grandmother and her friends used to say when they found a really hot one. :D

Anonymous said...

Martina said...okay, I've admitted I'm a blogging dolt and haven't figured out how the heck to get past "anonymous"...anyways....

Anne..as you can see I've already gotten addicted...I've been here twice now in one night!!

And yes, the romance stigma continues...I think it's a conspiracy or something. The twits who do the labeling should do a little homework and see just how broad and formidable the romance market really is. I believe they might be some of the same twits who, when we writers shyly explain what we do in the wee hours down here in our chilly basement lairs, who respond with..."Oh I always wanted to write a book! It sounds so easy!" That's when I want to grab my ancient Selectric sitting over there in the corner, toss it at the twit's head and say..."Okay, honey,start typing!"

Bill Cameron said...

All I can say is I'm glad I'm not the only one whose lair is in the basement. Even as I type, a spider is descending on its web between me and the monitor.

anne frasier said...

martina, i think if you choose the "other" button, you can then type in your name. but this way works perfectly fine for me! and i'm so jealous that you and bill both have lairs!! :D if i had a lair, it would be full of centipedes. that's the only thing good about fall/winter -- it's the end of centipede season. *shudder*

but bill, what ambience. and here you were thinking your cat was your muse!

the other comment that goes along with, "I always wanted to write a book" is "I'd write a book if I had time." or "Must be nice to have the time to write a book. I've always wanted to write a book, but I wouldn't have the time."

Tami said...

Okay Anne, when I read that you googled me I actually laughed out loud and people turned and looked to see what I was laughing at (I'm at work right now.) Even though only one thing that I've worked on is on IMDB (because it was considered a movie..the rest TV) my mom thinks she still has to search every few weeks JUST in case something new pops up. :::shakes head::: Gotta love her!

anne frasier said...

tami: LOL!

i'm always googling my kids, so i completely get your mom! :D

Martina said...

Gee, Bill...your lair sounds better than mine...all I have are stacks of books threatening to fall on my head. I'll have to hire a few spiders...or bats maybe.