Advice From Non-Writers

Lately I’ve begun to introduce my writing self to friends and family. For the longest time, the only people who knew I was attempting a writing career were my mom, my brother, sister, and best friend. I wasn’t comfortable revealing my “secret” self to the world. I’m still a little unsure about it, but I’ve grown more confident in myself.

A few weeks ago, my dad called me. Let me just first explain that we’re not terribly close. It’s no big tragedy or anything, but he doesn’t understand me and never has. I’ve come to accept that and I love him anyway. Anyway, I finally told him a few weeks ago (before the agent called) that I’m a writer. What was his first question? “Did you write about me?” Um, no. Sorry.

That wasn’t the first time someone’s asked me if I based any of my characters off of my friends and family. A friend of mine asked if I’d used my friends as a base for my characters. The answer again was no. Oh I might pick and choose little snippets of conversation only I seem to remember, or incidents they want to forget and twist them into the story, but for the most part, my characters are their own…people. Meh…weird.

So now on to the writer’s advice. At my nephew’s graduation, I broke the news to my dad and stepmom that I have an agent. My stepmom asked me what I wrote and I told her. Then she says, “I have a really good idea for a story”…yeah, okay! At the bachelor party, my sister-in-law’s cousin shouts down the table…And this is as close to word-for-word as I can get:

“When you write your next book, I have a great story. Ready? Okay, so it’s in the future when they can clone people. This man’s wife has lung cancer so they clone his wife to get the lungs from her clone. And get this! The man falls in love with the clone! Cause…it’s like his wife. But then she has to die cause she’s the clone and his wife needs the lungs! But it’s his wife!”

Me: “Have you thought on this idea a long time?”

Him: “Nah, I saw it on the King of Queens.”

It was funny, but it made me realize that people who don’t write always seem to have an idea of what would be a great book. They think it’s easy to sit down and bleed into a keyboard for months. They don’t realize that once you write “The End” the story still isn’t finished because then come the edits. But even then the story isn’t ready. You have to send it to a critique partner who’ll rip it to shreds and says, ‘AGAIN with the voices!’ or ‘There’s an awful lot of thrusting going on, sounds like an orgy!’. Then you fix all that thrusting in non-sexual situations and get rid of the voices and send it back to your critique partner. Then when they finally say, “Okay, this is good” you have to send it to other people and hope/pray/make sacrifices to the gods that you’ll be chosen above other equally desperate and more talented writers. Then you have to wait again!

So now, every time I see my mom or brother, the first question out of their mouths is, “Did you hear back from your agent yet?”, “Maybe you should call her.”, “Do you think she’s waiting until she has news?”. Meanwhile I’m in a constant state of paranoia (although that his lessening somewhat) that I’ll get a Dear Jane e-mail and she’ll break up with me. Not that we’re dating, but we’re in a relationship now. Kind of. Sort of. I haven’t signed the pre-nup yet.

(Wow this is therapeutic. See, this is why I blog. I’m so saving money on therapy.)

Anyway, I don’t even know if there’s a point to this post. Let me re-read it. I knew it, there’s really no point. However, there is an underlying message. Somewhere. I think. Oh right. Writing isn’t something you can just do. You have to work at it, perfect your technique. Kind of like playing pool or learning an instrument. You have to take lessons, learn from people who actually know what they’re doing. Okay, I’m going to stop rambling.

If you have anything else you’d like to add, feel free! I’m going to call this Rambling Tuesday. Or Rant and Rave Bruiseday. Hm.


Filed under Family, Writing

6 responses to “Advice From Non-Writers

  1. Love your honesty. I haven’t kept my writing goals a secret per se but I haven’t shouted it from the rooftops either. Maybe because I just don’t want to deal with the inevitable “what have you published” questions.
    Good luck with your agent! The best is yet to come.

    • LS – Yes, that’s usually the first question asked, isn’t it? Actually, a friend of mine said “Do you have anything at the store yet?” and I had to explain that no, I’m in the toddler stages of writing, but hopefully something will come of it. Good luck with your writing and shout it from the rooftops! 😉

      Sayde – I actually made a point to tell my mom “If I get published and anyone ever asks you if the mothers in my books are based on you…they aren’t! I swear!” because they aren’t the nicest women. And really, they aren’t based on my mom or any mom I know of.

  2. I get this alot, Am I in it? NO. I constantly have to remind my family that my characters are often the only survinging sibling, have no parents, or have run away and have nothing to do with their crackhead crazy family. My brothers and my dad just shake their heads and say “Thats just wrong.” Um no it’s not! I write to escape them not to add them back into my writing.

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  4. When I tell people that I’m a writer, I get the standard ‘I have an idea I’m going to write about’ I usually stand and smile and think ‘yeah right, let me know when you get to the 20 k mark’

    People think it’s so easy. They have no idea.

    • I mean, I guess I understand their reasoning. We’re telling stories. Everyone has a story, but to put it into text format and polish it until it shines takes true dedication. It’s sort of like American students who hate English because “why should I have to take it? I speak English already!” kind of mentality.

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