Thursday, October 27, 2011


I don't know what it is about the words "warm fuzzies," but I feel like they're more appropriately written in ALL CAPS.

So Juliana Brandt has posed the question -- if you have writerly ambitions, do you tell people? If so, how do they react?

Well, for me the answer to the first question is generally "no." For some reason I feel like telling people you want to be a published author is kind of like telling people you want to be a movie star or play for the San Francisco '49ers. Why don't you throw "fairy princess" in there while you're at it?

I've told some friends, and told all you folks out in InternetLand (which is a slightly different crumb cake altogether, wouldn't you agree?), but I tend to keep to myself. Proclaiming a love of reading and/or naps is fine. Proclaiming a love of writing puts you on par with those goth kids from junior high, scribbling away in their spiral notebooks about their secret pain.

But on the rare occasion I have told people, I've received mixed reactions:

Parents, Circa 2005:

Pops: Of course! You know, I can't really see you as a lawyer for the rest of your life.

Mom: But you're still going to law school, right?

Friends, Circa 2006 -- upon reading my second book:

Pauly & Lulu, Anna and Ricky: This is really good! It should be really easy to get published.

(We were so young.)

Siblings, Circa 2007:

Echo: I think you should write more serious stuff.  You're not even the funny one in the family.

Charlie: It makes sense. Books are your best friends.

And ... that kind of sums up the revelation tour.

So tell me, folks--what is it about an adult revealing a lofty ambition (screen writing, novelist, poet, actor, model) that makes other adults (even ones who harbor similar ambitions) mentally roll their eyes?


  1. They think it can't be done becasue they never had the persistence to see it through to the end!

  2. I don't know if it even makes others roll their eyes, it just makes you think they will, and so you don't say anything. I'm more scared of people (with good intentions) following up and asking if I achieved said dream, and then having to publicly admit that I failed at it.

    Confession: sometimes when I can't sleep at night, I pretend that being a SCOTUS clerk isn't an impossible goal and allow myself to fantasize about how awesome it would be if I could score one of those jobs.

  3. See, to be fair to the eyerollers, *I* am an eyeroller. When someone tells me of a similar goal, my first instinct is, "Yeah right." So I'm pretty sure they (we) exist in droves.

    Becca - no worries. It's been two years since I past my first bar exam, and I still have that fantasy.

  4. jealousy. lack of follow through on their own dreams.

  5. I don't generally tell people either. In my case, however, it's usually to avoid conversations like this.
    Upon husband's revelation to MIL that I was writing a book:
    MIL: "Delia? Really?"
    Hubs: "Yes."
    MIL: "Huh."
    Upon revelation that I had finished the first draft of the first book and was drafting a second:
    MIL: "Why?"
    Me: "Because I enjoy it."
    MIL: "Huh."

    Good times.

  6. they're just jealous cause they cant do it. and if they cant, how could i possibly?
    isnt that terrible?
    and patronizing, ugh!
    must get published to show them!

  7. It's always been the opposite for me. My whole life, people have been telling me I need to be a writer and I've been the one telling them to lay off the pot.

    Now that I actually am writing I keep it to myself because I already know I should lay off the pot but am clearly not going to.

  8. "Our bodies remain alive, yet sooner or later our soul will receive the mortal blow."
    -Paulo Coelho

    It just happens.

  9. "Why don't you play fairy princess while you're at it?" Bahahaha! That's definitely the response I get sometimes (not those words exactly, of course), but regardless I still tell everyone I'm a writer.

  10. But I DO wanna be a movie star and play for the 49ers. And be a fairy princess...

  11. I think it's because there's so many people who say they want to be writers, so we just get jaded or whatever about it.
    To be honest, I've met a lot of people who want to be writers but haven't shown any promise at all. Or they just keep saying it and I never hear or see anything come of it. I used to imagine that I could be a writer, but, hah, I got over that delusion a while ago. I'm okay with accepting my limits.

    That doesn't mean people who are willing to really work hard at it and actually have good ideas and skills can't make it, or should stop trying. Frankly, I hope (some)people who always talk about getting published DO get published, to give the rest of us hope for our own dreams.

  12. However, I can't lie that it's kind of refreshing to hear a more unusual dream. Like one of my coworkers told me today that she wants to do hair and makeup for movies and stuff, and I was like "DUDE! DO IT!"

    Maybe I should say that to everyone.

  13. There's too much talk of being a teacher, a policeman or a fireman or working in an office. You always assume actors have parents in the industry or something. Someone has to be the first one. We are brave souls ;)

  14. I'm smiling and laughing--funny post! "But you're still going to law school.." I love that :)
    I have no idea why it's such a big deal to say you are a writer, but I'm thinking I might add the fairy princess thing the next time someone asks.

  15. Yep, it's totally different telling people on the internet. The info is there for friends to find it, but I sure don't bring it up with them.

    And you're probably right, in the end, we're all eyerollers over something ;)

  16. Good twist to Juliana's original question for her Warm Fuzzies blogfest that got me over to your site. Love your blog name, BTW.

    I think when you are working really hard on your craft and someone breezily tells you at a cocktail party that they're a writer too, but when you press them on what they're doing you find out they're writing their first book ever, have never had anything published,aren't members of any writing communities (blogs, critique groups, reading or writing sites, or writing organizations), it's hard not to mentally roll your eyes!

    On the other hand, I've had people do it to me too. Even people in SCBWI, who are supposed to be supportive. I think it's hard to break out of that judgmental mode that makes us all strive to succeed. I just grit my teeth and keep on going. After all, it is persistence that pays off in the end.
    Kim Van Sickler

  17. Cortney, Catherine, Colleen and Kim - thanks for commenting, nice to meet you!

    I think everyone has some solid explanations for the eye roll phenomenon. Go team!

  18. Great post! I don't think it's that others don't want to see creative people succeed, it's that being "creative" is so cliche. It could mean 1,000 things. Saying you're a writer is all well and good, but it doesn't mean anything unless you write. The only thing that can be done is to write and prove you deserve to call yourself a writer while taking other people's negativity in stride. What I think they're really saying is: I'd like to do that, but I don't have the guts. See, they're actually complimenting you for having the guts to do what they are afraid to do. It's a compliment! (Did you see how I spun that in a positive light? Remind me of this the next time someone rolls their eyes when I say I write.)

  19. Sometimes I just look at these people and I shed a tear for them in my head because they lost their ability to dream and imagine, and I think that makes for a very sad life.

    Great post.

  20. I've told a few people. Here are their reactions, summarized:

    My husband (with completely, utterly, fantastically unrealistic expectations) - "You will be the most famous author in the universe! People will hang on to your every word, your every breath! Just look at the way you used the word 'the' just now! You're amazing! It's about time you support me, anyhow. Are you writing tonight? Why aren't you dropping everything to write every moment of every day? When will your book be published? Can you start it tonight and have your first royalty check in your hand by next week?"

    My brother - "I like your writing! But can you change the story and words from the way you've written them to the way I suggest you write them? Here is a page of my very specific, very detailed suggestions, with my changes highlighted in yellow..."

    My colleague - (blank look)

    I haven't really told too many other people. Because in my head, their reaction is, "Yeah, right."

  21. On the other hand, I guess I can be an eye-roller, too. My inner dialogue is probably, "sure, you can put words to paper, but are you GOOD?"

    And that's so completely not fair. But I'm pretty sure it's what others would think if I told them about my dreams.

    So I figure I'll just let the finished book speak for itself.

    If I finish it. :)

  22. People tend to go a bit quiet when I tell them I write erotic romances - I guess they are worried they might have to read one and will be so embarrassed if I ask if they enjoyed it!

    Love the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest. Its great to hear how other writers cope with their guilty secret.

    Emma Calin

    PS added you to my blogroll

  23. I honestly don't know, but I can never take my 30 year old friend who is earnestly trying to become an emo-rock star seriously.