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.


Mirka Breen said...

"How's [whatever IS is] it going?"
Answer: "Fine."

Most non-writers who are not close friends don't want to know about the writing, they are asking about publication.
I think the dog will listen and wag her tail. The dog wants to know everything...

Ann Herrick said...

LOL! I say as little as possible about what I'm writing, it's just easier that way for me. :D

Vonna said...

This is why writers like to hang out with other writers. We never get tired of hearing about it or talking about it!

nanmarino said...

Mirka, Thanks for your comment. Yes! My dog is a great listener :)
Ann, Saying less is very smart. It's just so hard for me...
Vonna, You're right! Who understands a writer more than another writer? Isn't it wonderful to have writer friends?

Kelly Hashway said...

At least you are willing to talk about it. Before I signed my first book deal, when people asked how my writing was going, I didn't want to answer. The question made me feel like a failure. I hated it.

Now that I do have books coming out, the question is always, "So when are your books coming out?" Non writers don't understand that publishing takes quite a bit of time. At an author event, a woman asked if I wrote for middle grade readers. When I told her I signed on for a series that debuts in 2014, she gave me this look that made me want to crawl under a rock. She couldn't understand what would take two years when the book is written. ;)

Anna Staniszewski said...

Haha, I totally know that glazed look people get when I talk about my writing too much. I've found that having a writing friend to vent to about my projects makes me less likely to bore my non-writing friends. :-)

nanmarino said...

Kelly, Congrats on the series! And I totally understand about that look. I've gotten it too. As soon as I showed the cover for my next book, people started asking.
Anna, Thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one who does this. Writing friends are great to vent to. They understand.

Nikki said...

Oh my, I laughed right out loud at this one! Are we twins?
Just so you know, if I ask how the writing's going, I want to know ALL the gritty details!!
Thank goodness we're all crazy in this together. :)

nanmarino said...

Thanks, Nikki. Same here.

cleemckenzie said...

What Vonna said. Writers get me, but I can bore the cat into a stupor.

There's a little mention on my blog this morning. I like jumping the gun a bit.

Hope the weekend is wonderful for you.

nanmarino said...

Yes, Vonna is right. That's why we need our writing buddies. Thanks so much for the mention of Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace on your blog.