Friday, April 27, 2007

Didn't Expect It

"A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything..."
~Robert Heinlein

Last night, I was out with a group of girlfriends from work -- we went to a local dinner theater to see "Grease." Very fun, good food, good performances, nice camraderie. But during the conversation, one of the women turned to me and asked, "So I hear you're writing a book?"

I said, "Actually, yes, and I'm really excited because I have two that will be published sometime later this year."

"Really?" She turned away and that was that.

I wasn't really sure how to take that response, though I thought since I actually work and socialize with her on a regular basis, she might have a little more to say. Maybe I was expecting too much.

Disinterest? Jealousy? I dunno. But I didn't expect her to turn her back without another word.

Anyone else have similar responses from non-writers in your world? Are people excited for your successes, or mildly courteous while they change the subject? Do they want to know more, or do they dismiss your "hobby"? It's an interesting dynamic.

To wrap up this train of thought, here's a terrific interview with Stephen King after he won the National Book Award in 2003.

I suppose when it comes down to it, the support of those people most important in our lives is all we really need, right?


Marianne Arkins said...

I'm trying to picture that happening... did you just sit there, mouth open, for a few seconds?

In my experience, most non-writers don't know what to say. The response you got is pretty close to what I hear from everyone I know. It's not that they aren't being supportive, just that they're utterly clueless about how important it is to us. They have other things to think about that are more important to them.

Maybe if you actually hand her a book in print, or tell her she can pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble, she'll have a different reaction.

Have a good weekend!

Mom said...

Unfortunately, Ali, this reaction is not unusual. When your father and I returned from two years in the Peace Corps we were changed persons. We were passionate about what we had experienced and wanted to share it with our friends and colleagues. Granted, some people were fascinated by our tales, but the majority listened politely, then went on about their business, or returned to a more familiar and comfortable topic of conversation. I remember showing a set of slides from Somalia, to a group of relatives. A cousin watched for a few minutes, then got up and left because he had other things to do!
Thank goodnes you have the support of your writer friends.

annie said...

It sounds like an unusual response. If I asked a person I knew if he/she was writing a book I would have tons of follow-up questions! I think some people are just not interested in things that don't pertain to them personally and don't invest the time to learn about others. It's a shame. Anyway, I just popped in to say hello. "hello."

Anonymous said...

I have had the same experience. The last book I had published was a romantic comedy, with the emphasis on comedy. However, there are not many people who "get" comedy in the written word. Consequently, many people who bought my book just didn't get it and would never mention a word about it. But that's fine. Those who did "get" it sent me e-mails, called on the phone, asked when the next one was coming out.

And then there are those who act as if writing a book were like buying a loaf of bread at the store. These are the people to me who are just plain jealous or oblivious to what goes into the task. But nobody can ever take away that sense of accomplishment.

And for those who aren't on my "wave length" with regard to the comedy, they don't know what they're missin' sista!