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?