Saturday, December 29, 2007

When a Writer is a Girlfriend

With my WotF sub safely in the mail as of the 28th and a query shipped off, I'm dealing with some inertia. I should be writing. I even have ideas and a list of things to do.

I have the day off tomorrow. Hopefully some free time without hours of mind-numbing retail stuff to drain me first will help me be productive.

At work a coworker has a girlfriend who is (apparently) a budding writer. I told him to have her email me. This has turned into a big thing for her, apparently, with all kinds of concerns about meeting a stranger and stuff. I suspect the stuff part is having a potentially dispassionate reader tell her the truth about her work. We may have another potential INKer, or she may turn out to be a fanfic (Kami flinches from the many steely knives bared as fanfic writers prepare to defend their craft) writer who will appear briefly in my email box and then vanish cryptically in a puff of lavender smoke. I'll make first contact and see what's what.

This may be a case of her telling her boyfriend that she writes fantasy and he translated this to mean that she actually writes fantasy, if you know what I mean. That would explain the severe shyness.

So here's a word to those boyfriends (and girlfriends) out there who have been told that their person of interest is a writer. There are kinds of writers and writer wannabes and until you know what their type is, think twice before dragging them in the direction of things like critique groups, writer's conferences and such. It may be just what they want and need, or it might be the worst torture you could put them through.

And here's a word to the people out there who call themselves writers. Writer encompasses a huge group, from published authors to folks who like to hand write letters to their relatives, from up-and-coming writers of short stories to closet novelists that should stay in the closet, from poets of every skill level to non-fiction article writers, journalists, bloggers, and the small child who writes their very first essay without really understanding what an essay is. If you're going to tell someone you're a writer, it may be a good idea to go a little further and talk about what you write and why. It might save you some trouble. Then again, it might get you into the good kind of trouble.

I'll always wince when I mention I'm a writer and someone leaps in and asks what I've published. I've got to get quicker with the "and I hope to be published soon."

I've had a new one, btw. I mentioned I spent my evenings writing to one of my bosses and she asked what I wrote. "Fantasy novels," I said.

And her voice did that downturn. "Oh."

It's better than being asked what I've published, though!


Carole said...

I'm surprised how many people believe 'fantasy novels' mean porn novels.

Apparently, the definition of fantasy is different for us writers. I wish more of us were around to education the others.

Kami said...

Here here!

There's a whole panel usually done annually at OryCon about people who read fantasy novels that don't have dragons, unicorns, talking cats and/or horses or vampires and werewolves in them. The panel goes on to talk about what they're reading instead and where to find it. Now I should mention that there are plenty of good books with the above elements in them, but I do get tired of people assuming that's all there is to fantasy. Someday ...

Carissa said...

Good advice on the critiques. There are a surprising number of "writers" who really don't want other people to read their stuff.

And then there are the ones who only want "well, that is so good" as the response.

And then there are the people who, once they find out you are a writer, constantly feel the need to feed story ideas to you. This is amusing, for the most part, but can get a bit tiresome when you already have so much on your plate. It's nice to get interesting facts and events, but not already boiled into some plot idea, because my tastes in plot is probably much different.

That would be my advice to enthusiastic non-writers. Don't feed the writer. Sometimes, they bite.

And I'm not touching the issues with Fantasy. I'm not sure I could pull it off non-snarky.

Mark Jones said...

"They stab it with their steely knives
but they just can't kill the beast!"
--the Eagles

Heh. Guess I might as well not bother drawing my steely knife, then.