Knocked Up

A common theme we aspiring authors tend to discuss a lot is how open we are about our writing.  Who have we let in on our little secret?  Family?  Close friends?  Co-workers?  Naturally those who’ve been published, about to be published, or have signed with an agent would probably be a lot more forthcoming then those of us still seeking validation.  Why is that?  Why are we so hesitant to talk about this passion to those closest to us…but we’ll openly share our experiences to virtual strangers out here in the blogosphere?  Don’t worry, I’m not an idiot and I don’t think any of you are either, it’s a rhetorical question.  Here in our blogging community we all understand the process.  The trials, tribulations, frustration, gratification, reward (recognized or not), despair, and jubilation. It’s so easy to relate.  But our non-writer friends and family…muggles, if you will…with their obligatory praise and well-intentioned prodding, that’s another matter.

There might be another explanation for our silence.  Expectations.  As soon as you let that cat out of the bag, then expectations start to build in the minds of those you tell.  It’s very similar to a couple informing the people in their life that they’re pregnant.  What’s the first question asked…when are you due?  The newly informed instantly know that big changes are coming and have a timeline to track the couples progress by.  Now let’s back that up a step and pretend the couple make the same announcement…only they’re not really pregnant yet.  They only have intentions on becoming pregnant.   How do they answer the when are you due question now?  It's not like you make that kind of decision, do the nasty, and ta-dah...pregnant!  It doesn't work like that (unless you're teenagers doing it for the first time in the back of a Chevy using a condom with a microscopic hole in it).  How do explain the lack of a belly bulge eight months later.  Twelve months?  Two years?  Is it a problem with her?  With him?  Did they change their mind?  Are they having problems?  Anybody having difficulty equating the red NO on a pee stick to a rejection letter?

The expectations of others upon us create a pressure to deliver.  Our egos are fragile enough, why do that to ourselves?    We don’t.  We keep silent.  Questions like "what have you been doing lately?" are deflected.  It’s impossible to fail at something nobody knows about, right?

But here’s the thing, expectation can serve as a powerful motivator?  Want to lose twenty pounds...tell everyone you're on a diet.  Want to finish that half-completed landscape project...plan a party an invite everyone over.  Want to see your recently revised manuscript published...tell everyone you're a writer.

So that's what I did.  At our company strategic planning session this week we were asked to stand up, introduce yourself, and say one thing that none of the 45 other attendees knew about you.  I proudly announced that I was a writer and I had written two novels!

Thirty minutes later I felt like throwing up.  Maybe its morning sickness?

22 comments

  1. Good for you! Not the throwing up part.
    I can identify with expectations. The pressure was on while writing my second book - it must be better than the first.
    That's why I started the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's a safe haven for us neurotic writer folks!

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  2. Morning sickness - that's good!

    I've told people at work I write. Not like you did - more like one person at a time (and then it was only prompted when I'd mention a convention I attended). But then, I'd never stand up and say anything to a group if I could avoid it! Just talking in front of a group makes me nauseous.

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  3. ooooooh! love the analogy!!!
    but the morning sickness line? pure genius!

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  4. Great analogy!

    I've found that telling some of my friends and family has been a great motivator when I felt like giving up. Sometimes it's the thought of disappointing those who believe in me that helps me to write through the hard times.

    I always loved those who would tell me, "You look great!" while pregnant even though I felt like crap - kind of like the writing community cheering us on.

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  5. I've started telling some people, but it's hard when I don't have anything "done" yet. Well I have a first draft of a short story now, but I'm rewriting the beginning. So it almost feels like the first draft still. It's getting easier in a way though. I'm acting more like a serious writer, so I feel like I have more of a right to call myself a writer. Even if I do need to work on BIC-without-distractions more.

    I think most of my (perceived) expectations come from my fellow writers though. Average people don't ask about it after the initial conversation. Hardly anyone even in my family will say, "Hey! How's your story coming along?" But my fellow writers do. Or even if they aren't asking directly, they're talking about theirs and showing me that I'm slacking again. ROW 80 is keeping me on better track with my goals, because it's a sort of ongoing conversation where we are expected to talk about our progress, to talk about ourselves, without feeling conceited or like a discussion hog. And since I want to be able to report on progress at the check-ins, I have to work.

    And congrats on your public declaration! Nervousness or not, upset stomach afterwards or not, that is still terrific.

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  6. Birthing the next NY Best Seller can be a nauseating. I know through personal experience (still largely unrecognized, of course).

    Everyone I know consistently asks who my publisher is and when the next novel is due to be released. The 5th of Never doesn't seem a satisfying answer :)

    But telling everyone I'm a writer does put the pressure on me to actually write stories and attempt to get them published. I know I need the incentive.

    .......dhole

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  7. Very well said. Non-writers don't realize how hard it is to get published, and are sincerely bewildered when, nine months later, you still don't have a book on the shelf. However, they are almost always really impressed that you wrote a whole novel, and it's something that we need to remember. Writing the novel is just as much of an accomplishment, more so, as getting it published.

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  8. haha...great analogy. But you never know. Now it's out there, it may actually mature...

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  9. Great analogy. But isn't the red NO on a pee stick exactly the same as a rejection? The rejection is just more like pee in cheerios. :)

    So glad you are back.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  10. expectations is a huge chunk of why i keep blogging. It keeps me accountable to keep writing. It definitely helps me

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  11. LOL If you think you are pregnant, don't forget to tell your wife. She might like to know.

    Congrats on sharing your secret. It's a big step.

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  12. Ha ha. Brilliant post, D.L.! And your aside about teenagers in chevys is EXACTLY right. As a H.S. teacher, I see too much of that truth. :-)

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  13. I like the idea of a party to motivate you to finish landscaping. Oh, but so much pressure then!

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  14. That must have been so scary! Way to conquer that fear.

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  15. Good on you for having the courage to come out!
    I made the mistake of telling my family that my husband and I were trying for a baby. It took seven years with a lot of "are you pregnant yet?" nagging in between. So, lesson learned, I'm not telling anybody except my beta readers about the writing until I can also tell them where to buy the book. Here's hoping it's only another 7 years :)

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  16. You bring up such a good point!

    I start a new job on Monday and I know the fact that I write a blog will come out....and if they look at that, it won't take them long to figure out that I am workin on a writing project.(not ready to say novel.) do I want that? I'm not sure. But like you said, when the cat's out of the bag, soon you realize people give you the pressure you might need...

    So, maybe itll be a good experience...right?....I'm sure it will be....it has to be....of course it will be...maybe...I'm not sure....maybe not....could be bad... Or good...

    I'll let you know.

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  17. Way to go! It's hard to admit that to people. The first thing they ask is, when's your book coming out? But it does get easier to handle those questions, I think. As for sharing info online, I'm particularly reticent there too. I waited awhile to announce when I got an agent even. ha!

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  18. Very true DL. Congratulations on announcing to your corner of the world that you've written two novels.

    Expectations are killer! Honestly, without the other bloggers out there, I might have quit a while ago. Ya'll are just so encouraging.

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  19. Hahaha, morning sickness---excellent analogy. Glad you didn't throw up. :) I was totally skittish about coming out of the closet as a writer too, and I'm glad I did, but you're not kidding about the pressure. Thanks for putting the positive spin on it---as a motivator. I do think I'd allow myself to slack off without that constant barrage of people asking "What's next?"

    Also---welcome back to blog world! And good for you on figuring out how to fit it into your life on a manageable, and therefore I hope enjoyable, level.

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  20. Well, you just just told everyone you're expecting. Kind of, if writing novels is a metaphorical baby, you know?

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  21. Somebody has an award awaiting their presence :) An interview will follow within the week and you will be featured in a post on my blog! I can't wait to hear what you have been up to and working on!

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  22. Every time I tell friends or family I'm a writer, I regret it. I think only six people know I'm a writer other than my husband and son. Six. And I regret I told them because now I have constant questions: When will I get a copy of your book? What are you working on now? Do you make enough money? I'm glad you told your co-workers but for me, I can't do that anymore.

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