Sunday, June 10, 2012

So how's your writing going?

Never ask. And never make eye contact.

It's a question writers get asked all the time. It's kind of like the "how are you?" of the writing world.
My problem is when my friends ask, I answer.
It doesn't matter if I'm deep into a novel or if I have a few wisps of an idea, I like to talk. I tell them about the funny quirks of some minor character or ramble on about a major discovery I've made about the protagonist. I wonder out loud about what my main character really wants and I try to figure out if I'm taking them down the right path.
But not everyone wants the gritty details.
Even with family members and great friends, there are times when they've heard enough. And as difficult as this concept is for me, it seems that they occasionally like to talk about other things.
No matter how casually they say it, if they ask about my story, I will tell them.
Not too long ago at the day job I met an unsuspecting coworker at the copy machine. When she said, "hey, how's the writing going?" it was meant as a polite greeting. And I knew it too. But that didn't stop me. While the photocopy machine chugged along, I shared with her tons of fascinating fun facts that I had learned about the place where my characters lived.
At first, she was polite and nodded. Then after a while, she stared at the copy machine like she was begging it to print faster. Unfortunately for her, it was a huge print job, a slow machine, and I had tons more things to tell her. Even when she shifted back and forth, giving wistful glances at the automatic sprinkler system, I rambled on and on and on.
There are writers who keep their thoughts to themselves. They let their ideas perk and simmer. They write it all down (which really is the point of the whole thing). And when they're ready, they share.
They are wise writers.
I am not wise.
When I'm working on a story, I feel like I'm discovering a whole new world, meeting new people, and encountering new experiences.  I want to introduce all the people I care about in my real life to the people I care about in my imaginary one.
Sometimes, when no one is around, I'll even talk to the dog. And sometimes she gives me a please-can-we-talk-about-something-else glance too.