Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: August, 2014.

The IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and it's purpose is to give writers a place to vent their insecurities as well as comfort fellow writers in their own. This month's co-hosts are Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom. Thanks guys and gals!

Usually when I sit down to write my IWSG post, just after I remember it's the first Wednesday of the month, I sit here staring at a blank screen for a good while.

Not this month, no siree.

This idea came to me just after writing last month's post and it revolves not around the practice of writing as much as what I'm writing.

When I first did National Novel Writing Month, I was really jazzed. I was going to write my novel and take a huge step towards being a "real" writer. I flew by the seat of my pants, determined to finish and "win" (which I did) with my over 50k word count. When I was done, I was really proud of myself. Seriously. I don't do much in the way of patting myself on the back, but in this I did. I proudly told my wife I had finished and, I think, she was just as proud of me as I was.

Then it happened.

We were down at her brother's house and she proudly told him and his wife that I had written a novel.

He seemed genuinely impressed (Mike's a great guy, very laid back and supportive) and then asked me THE question.

"What's it about?"

Right then, it all collapsed in on me. Not that I hadn't really expected this question....I did...I just didn't expect my own reaction to it.

Growing up reading comic books and being interested in sci-fi/fantasy had ingrained in me a certain reaction by others (mainly my parents and extended family) when I told them of my hobbies. You may know what I mean. That eye rolling, smirking, "Oh, that...." response that "normal" people give when they ask what sorts of things you were into. Because, if it's not related to sports or watching sports on t.v. or going to sporting events, it really doesn't "count" and isn't, really, socially acceptable.

Uh huh.

Not that I wasn't used to this sort of response, by all sorts of people, growing up but I hadn't even prepared for it coming up in relation to my new novel. The novel that I was so proud to have done...even though it wasn't quite 'finished', it was still a good start. Right?

That pride turned into quasi-embarrassment.

Here I my mid 40s...and I had been reduced to my childhood, trying to "explain" my interests.

"Well, it's about this.....ummm....robot back to the 1940s's called....uhhh....The T.E.M.P Agency....and...."

I felt myself becoming more than a bit embarrassed in telling him what my book was about. That insecurity grabbed me around the throat and really throttled me. What was I doing? I was proud of this thing, doggone it!

Of course, my brother-in-law seemed genuinely interested....which helped...but I couldn't believe that, in all the month I spent writing about a time traveling robot who gets stuck in the 1940s, I'd be gun shy telling others the characters and background I had created.

What did I think was going to happen should it ever be published and strangers were, actually, reading it? To this day, I'm still a little surprised how out of left field it all came.

On the bright side, I've gotten over that little hurdle and feel proud to say that "I'm a writer"....regardless of what I'm writing. I've even taken the true test....telling my parents.

They loved the idea, by the way.

Moral of the story: Write it loud and write it proud!

One insecurity down....about a million more to go! :)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, it hit you, and now you know to be prepared to give an answer.
And I think it sounds geek-awesome.

Julie Flanders said...

I still get nervous when people ask what my books are about. I feel like everything I'm saying sounds idiotic. I probably do make the books sound idiotic by hemming and hawing and stumbling over my words LOL.

Lisa said...

Go you Mark! I know exactly what you mean. The other day the exact description of my novel, the blurb, came into my head and I thought, wow, that's perfect. Two days later someone asked me what the novel's about and I draw a complete blank. Could not remember one word of that awesome blurb. Grrr. Glad your BIL was really interested. It makes a huge difference to know someone cares.

Robin said...

I think part of this problem relates to how BIG we find the story. It takes work to encapsulate your novel into a sound byte.... which, for the record, will be necessary eventually. It is a good thing to write that one sentence over and over until you get it just how you want it. I am still not there yet, but I am closing in on it.

And, yes... write loud and proud!

Melissa said...

Good for you. Your story sounds cool, actually. :)

IWSG #184 until Alex culls the list again.

S.P. Bowers said...

I think it sounds very interesting. But then I'm a geek, too.

Unknown said...

Yes! I have an even worse problem - if anyone asks what mine's about, I'm struck dumb. Not a peep out of me - just that deer-in-the-headlights look. lol

Krista McLaughlin said...

I still get that way! A coworker asked me what my book was about and I was embarrassed to tell him it was a retelling of the Little Mermaid with a merman instead and it was a bit deeper romance. I didn't want him to think I was childish or wrote slutty romance. But it's my book and I'm proud of it. I have to get past being shy about it!

Andrew Leon said...

Well, you know, most people don't read at all, anyway, so it can't come up that much.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm usually stumped by that question too - although, for me, it's because I really can't work out how to explain.

Being proud and confident about your work is a huge step to make in public, so well done. Less 'umm-ing' next time though, okay ;-)

Heather Musk said...

"Write it loud and write it proud!" I just love that! I still feel very shy about my story ideas. Maybe if I embraced them rather than worrying I'd make more progress with writing them. I have to trust myself more and believe in my work.

jaybird said...

I am a very open and honest person (I think you know that already) but I get instantly insecure and shy whenever anyone asks me about my books or even calling myself a "writer". Especially with my crew of friends and family- almost everyone has something published and/or some sort of advanced degree...except me. I cringe when they ask me what my books are about. I love your attitude of loud and proud! Maybe I could adopt it.

Michael Di Gesu said...

CONGRATS MARK!!!! Good for you! The next time it will come easier... Why not jot down a logline and memorize it. That way you'll be more prepared why the 'Question's" asked.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Sometimes it's hard to open up about our true passions. It's glad they were so supportive.

Christine Rains said...

Great advice! I still get embarrasses telling people sometimes what my stories are about. But it's no longer the make me want to throw up feeling!

Tara Tyler said...

talking to others about our writing is one of the first hardest steps. we aren't just telling them about a story we made up, we are giving them a piece of our soul for them to judge. it's not a matter of introvert or extrovert, it's a matter of - your reaction to my writing is a direct indication to how you feel about me personally - its NOT business, its NOT a hobby, its personal.

sorry for the rant, you inspired me - and i'm so glad you got the gumption to be proud about it! you should!

now you're ready for the next phase... querying!!

Al Diaz said...

I think I understand you. I also have a lot of insecurity when talking about the things I enjoy. I am also familiar with "that look". Good you finally overcame it. Now for the other 999,999 left! Yeah!

Tammy Theriault said...

I've had this happen. it definitely gears you for "next time" doh!

Morgan said...

Write it loud and write it proud!!!!

Too right, Mark!!! I TOTALLY get this insecurity… and you ARE a writer. :) :) :)

Loved all of this.

Jack said...

I understand this. I hit the same thing over and over no matter how many books I write. And my newest one I've not yet done the test of trying to explain to my parents what I've written. (WWII. Torture. Not sure how it will go over.) But writing what you love and because you love it is always something to be proud of. Even if it is hard to explain sometimes.

And your book, very cool. I'd read it!

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