Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Confessions of an Addict

"Hi, my name's Mandy, and I'm an addict."

This was basically my husband's tag line for me this past weekend. It's not that funny. Not even mildly amusing. But since he only talked that way around our friends, I'll forgive him.

His twenty year high school reunion was held Friday and Saturday. We met up with some close friends who we see outside of the every ten years required by reunion law and the first thing his good buddy's wife said when she saw me was, "I heard you're on the internet.... writing books or something?"

Ouch. Thanks, dear. You're a champ. "I'm not on the internet...." I said, a little put out, "but I am writing books."

Face red, check. Pulse quickening, check. Heart pounding, oh yeah. Embarrassment kicking in, you betcha.

For some reason, he tells EVERYONE that I'm writing. I tell NO ONE. I don't know if it's because he's secretly proud of me, or that he's looking for a segue to complain about the fact that I'm having a love-affair with my computer (because that's what seems to be at the top of his gripe list). And at the same time, I don't know why I'm so embarrassed to shout to the world, "Yeah--that's right--I'm writing, so what?!?!"

I really dreaded that aspect of this reunion. People asking what I was up to and me trying to decide if I wanted to blow them off.... "I'm still coaching, blah, blah, blah". Or if I really wanted to spill the beans..."Well, I'm glad you asked. I've been writing for the last year and a half." I decided to go with conversation number one.

It's not that I'm not happy with what I'm doing as a writer. I am. I feel like I've finally, really followed through with something and found my true calling. But I guess it's my lack of success that keeps my mouth clamped shut. I know that I'm not doing too bad. I've had a few requests for partials in the last year, and a request for a full or two. That's further than a lot of people get. I guess its my nagging self doubt, rearing its ugly head yet again.

Two things happened, though to really snap me out of it. First, said wife answered me with, "I tried to sit down and write a book once, I got to page five and quit." That sentence led to a conversation about writing and she knew her stuff! Face, back to normal. Pulse, slowing. Heart, no longer pounding. Embarrassment, gone. The second thing that happened occurred while I was talking with one of my few "local" friends who knows all about my writing. We were catching up on the phone and she told me that she was going to have a stab at finally writing on her blog, and not just updating her family's goings on. "I'm so proud of you," she said. "It's really brave to put your stuff out there to let people read it."

Wow, I guess it is. I usually kind of pooh-pooh that comment off when someone says it, but this time, I really considered it. It is very, very hard to expose your soul like that. And writers put their souls into every word they write. Writing is so personal, so solitary, a little lonely at times, and by showing others our work, we give them a glimpse of what that loneliness produces. I'm glad that I can plunk that secret part of me down on the computer screen and have the guts to hit send over and over as I share my work with agents in the hope that someday I'll get to share my work on a much larger scale. I guess it is a little brave, and when I hit "send", I'm certainly not embarrassed or ashamed.

I think everyone decided that ten years was too long to get together and so the next reunion is slated for five. My own twenty year reunion is in three and I can't wait for people to ask me what I'm up to. "My name's Mandy, and I'm a writer."


TereLiz said...

LOL, I could switch Mandy for Tere and this would be my life! I guess it's the lack of anything concrete-- a published book-- to really brag about. I get nervous telling close friends and colleagues. "Young adult paranormal romance" sounds so business-like on a query letter, but so childish in real life. "You're writing kids' books?" "Did you read Twilight?" are the usual cringe-worthy responses when I reveal what I've been up to for the past four years. (Good Lord, has it really been that long?)

But just because I feel the same embarrassment doesn't mean I won't act a complete hypocrite and tell you to be proud of your accomplishments! Hold your head high when you proclaim to the (real) world that you are a writer.

Thanks for giving me a healthy dose of reality with this post, Mandy! And best wishes with your writing.

Suzanne said...

I am crying! How wonderful for you! And YES YOU ARE!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Bra.vo Mandy! Way to crush down that inner doubting/mad editor voice. :)

Lazy Writer said...

I know exactly how you feel. To me one of the most uncomfortable things about writing is telling people that I write! Good for you for deciding to be proud of what you do!

B.J. Anderson said...

I do the same thing. I think it's a common thing to doubt yourself, but maybe someday I'll get over it! Great post!

T. Anne said...

I actually tell no one and my husband does what yours does, Annoying isn't it?

Sharla said...

Ditto! I've always felt that the general non-writer population looks at writers as:

1) you are Stephen King
2) you are Nora Roberts
3) you are JK Rowling

Normal regular people don't write books, and so therefore if you say you do, they look at you like you just spoke in tongues.

It's taken me over a year now, with one novel written and a new one started, to say it out loud and believe it. Said it to my boss one day and nearly hyperventilated over it. I find that I tell strangers alot easier than family or friends.

My husband's brother actually called me the other day to tell me he has been reading my Facebook posts about word counts and how I'm working on this or that. He asked, "Are you writing a book or something?" I had to laugh. How sad is that?

"Yes," I said. "On my second one, actually." Whew. Breathe out now.

ElanaJ said...

Way to go, Mandy! You've made a crucial step along the way from "writer" to "author." I *heart* you!

Anonymous said...

WOO HOO...Just wait until you get to say "I'm Mandy and my book was just published". Woot!