Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Writer's Shame

As a stay-at-home mom, I often get the question, "What do you do all day?" I know I should feel irked by this question, especially when I get it from other SAHMs ... because shouldn't they know how much of my time is consumed by reading Blue Hat, Green Hat, clipping baby toenails, and cleaning the poop-covered Bumbo out in the shower?


Here's how I'd like to answer the question they're really asking (what do you besides mom and housewife stuff?): I love writing, and I'm working on a novel that I hope to get published.

But I don't say that. Why not?

Because I'm ashamed. How dare I presume that I, lowly Kimber, could ever be a writer? At least that's what I feel like they'll think when I admit I'm writing a book/manuscript/novel/story/historical fiction.

Until sometime in high school, perhaps around the time my junior English teacher sucked the love of literature from me like a Dyson, I was proud to announce that I wanted to be a writer. What changed? Why is it now uncomfortable for me to admit that I love writing and think I could have a shot at it?

Is it a sense of false humility? Is it because it's really hard to get published that I feel afraid to admit I'm going to try? Because I've successfully accomplished a lot of other really hard things and never had trouble talking about those goals while in the process of working toward them.

I don't like pretending that being an author isn't a huge dream of mine; it kind of feels like pretending I don't have a right leg. I want to overcome the taboo of confessing my love for writing. But I feel like I have to have something really concrete to claim before I do. Not just a finished thesis with some positive feedback of "I really think you could get this published," ... I want a finished novel, with an agent, with a publisher, with a measly little wonderful advance, and a non-stupid cover to put on the book.


Sigh. Dreams.
 

6 comments:

  1. katie the krippledJune 14, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    well according to the picture, you need a dog. we could lend you one. sorry no caps, it is hard to type shift and the letter with a maybe broken finger. but in all seriousness (too many letter s's. that is the hardest letter), just say it! be loud and proud. it is better than being a serial killer or an elementary school drop-out. I would tell them you are a writer and then proceed to tell them a little about your book.

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  2. Or you could make up really outlandish lies so they stop asking such a stupid question. Example: I robbed a bank and then blew all the money in Vegas. Maybe that is too illegal for you. Try this one: I cured cancer, what did you do? A little too snooty? What about you built a life size pyramid in your back yard. Why can't they see it? Well duh, you also sewed an invisibility cloak to cover it so the neighbors won't be bothered. Or you could say you organized your sock drawer three times if you want people to think you are boring and then they won't ask questions any more.

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  3. I can see how it would be hard to claim that you are a writer without a finished product. It would have been like me saying I was a professional photographer without any clients or 20X24 examples on my wall. I think saying that you are writing a novel sounds intriguing. Be brave!

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  4. I've been thinking about this, and here is my theory:

    Think about people who say they are "in a band." I always roll my eyes, because, come on! The same with people who say they are applying to modeling agencies. It takes a lot to make it to the big time in either of those areas, yet so many unskilled people think they have a legitimate chance. I feel like I'm being a jerk here... onward! Haha.

    Anyway, I think "being a writer" is kind of similar to those examples. Lots of people want to do it, think they can do it, but they lack the knowledge and experience to back up their confidence. YOU, however, do not, and can proudly proclaim your status as a writer with a novel in progress. And if they doubt you, grab y

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  5. our manuscript and threaten to paper cut their faces!

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  6. Kimber of COURSE you are a writer! I am a writer, too. I tell that to people all the time. What you aren't yet, and neither am I, is an AUTHOR. Ah HA! What is the difference? An author is published and gets paid. I must brag on this point, though: I got a really good rejection letter for one of my manuscripts once "This is really good, but we do not have a place for it in our publishing schedule." My proudest moment as a......writer. =)
    Auntie

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