That phrase sends shivers up my spine. Those four words have the power to turn my face a shade of red that will make even the healthiest of tomatoes jealous. They leave me stuttering and rambling like someone who’s just consumed ungodly amounts of caffeine.
It’s a question that I’m asked a lot. Part of me really wishes that I was paid a nickel every time it was asked, since my quarterly royalty checks aren’t paying the bills (womp). Still, I want to run to the nearest cave and live out the rest of my days like Gollum whenever the question arises. It comes with the territory of being a writer. Sometimes people are genuinely interested in what you’re working on. Others ask because they feel sorry for you. And then there are those who ask simply because you’re a writer, and that automatically means you’re an entertaining nutcase. Admit it, you think I’m a nutcase because I’m giving myself heart palpitations over this question. I’ll never deny that I’m slightly insane. Some writers are better at answering this than others, and I have my own theory as to why I have such trouble.
We’re vulnerable creatures, us writers. Even with all of the rejection we face on an almost daily basis, there are parts of our introverted selves that still silently cringe at the idea of not being good enough. When I’m standing there explaining what my latest short story is about, I’m secretly wondering if I’m being judged or not. What if the story that sounded brilliant and life changing in my head sounds absolutely ridiculous to someone else? I could try being more vague, but then that makes me sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about. Of course, there’s always the “I never talk about my work until it’s finished” excuse. But then people think you’re arrogant.
Bottom line, I know this is something I need to work through. I need to resist the urge to rush home and change my plot around every time someone questions what I’m doing and for what purpose. I think this comes with time though. I still consider myself a newbie writer with a lot to learn. I’m in transition, moving from children’s lit to literary fiction. Once I’m comfortable with who I am and what I’m doing, I’m sure I’ll be able to look people in the eye and tell them proudly that my latest story is about a woman obsessed with her rose bush, or about a woman who retreats to a swimming pool because her marriage is failing. And hopefully those ideas don’t sound stupid to you, because those are actual stories I’m working on.
Until next time…