Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are You Out of the Writing Closet?


"You're a writer?"

I get that a lot. I guess I don't put out writerly vibes or something. I think that most people have a pretty defined stereotype of what a writer is supposed to look and act like. You know, skinny, white, glasses, kinda homely, kinda geeky, sorta brooding, kinda like the stereotypical accountant with an artistic flare. I'm not those (except for the white part but hey, nobody's perfect). In fact, if you look across the writing blogosphere, it's tough to find writers that fit that description. Side note: Am I the only one who's noticed how good looking many writer-bloggers are? And literary agents too!  

The thing is, I like the idea of being recognized as a writer. I don't mean that I want people to run up to me at the mall and beg me to sign their tan lines. I just want "writer" to be one of the categories people assign to me.

Adam Gaylord: devoted husband, wildlife biologist, loyal friend, binge drinker, writer.

It's one of the main reasons I write. Is the desire for recognition enough to inspire a publishable manuscript?

No.

Is it enough to motivate me to keep learning the trade, stick with it long term, and devote the time that it will take to inspire a publishable manuscript?

Maybe. Only time will tell. I hope so.

Give what I've just told you, you might suspect that I run around yelling at every person I meet that I'm a writer as I beat them into submission with a copy of my manuscript. Not true. Some of my friends and a few family members know that I write. Most don't. I think only one or two know that I blog (Hi Luciano!).

I'm trying to be a little more open about my writing but the fact is that for a long time, writing was a closet activity for me. I kept my writing to myself and nobody new about it. And I think that I would have preferred a Barbra Streisand concert (aka torture) to actually letting anyone read anything I wrote.

The thing about closets is that they're lonely. It's hard to improve you craft without feedback. It's tuff to maintain direction without encouragement. It can be done but I don't want to be the one to do it.

I'm out of the writing closet.

I AM A WRITER!!!

How about you? Are you out of the writing closet?

19 comments:

  1. Dude. We are so good looking.

    LOL!

    Love this post. I'm definitely "Out of the closet." Because being an out of the closet writer makes me have accountability. And that, is HUGE. When I have people behind my back that know I'm trying to do this and I'm open about it, I have that extra support/pressure that pushes me to keep going. This biz is hard enough, and I'm *almost* sure that without that support/pressure, I wouldn't still be doing this. ;)

    I AM A WRITER!!!!!!

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    1. Great point, accountability is huge. It's hard to stick to anything if nobody's got your back.

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  2. I'm white, I wear glasses (which are broken, new ones on order, so sorry if this entry is kinda blurry), and I'm kinda geeky. Even with all that working against me, most people I tell about my writing are either 1. shocked, or 2. dismissive. I shouldn't be surprised.

    But I'm also quite outdoorsy. I kayak and canoe, train girl scouts in orienteering, and I'm definitely not shy or retiring.

    And I hope I never have people run up to me in the mall asking for tan line autographs. I'd prefer to sign freshly-minted copies of my latest novel. When I have such a thing...

    And here's another shout out to all those gorgeous agents! *wink wink*

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    1. Yeah, the "dismissive" thing is funny. I guess it's not surprising that I would be super happy to meet others who write but some people just don't care (especially as soon as the word "fantasy" comes into the mix).

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  3. Closeted here too, for most of my life. Hell, I only came out online last year, so yeah. Fuck it. I don't really care if anyone has a problem with fitting my square in the triangle "writer" hole.

    I agree with Morgan, coming out gives you accountability and forces you to turn it all up a notch, which, in turn, makes you a better writer with thicker skin. Win-win. Uhm, for us. Who cares about the rest? :P

    So.

    Checklist for Adam.

    * get a blog -- check,
    * out yourself like an eager exhibitionist whenever you can -- check,
    * get active on social media so you can shove your writerliness down strange people's throats -- check??? Come on. You know you want to. Lemme see that Twitter account.

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    1. I spend too much time doing the blogger/social media thing as it is. I need to concentrate more on actually writing instead of adding another outlet to the list.

      Oh, and grad school. I should do some of that too.

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  4. I came out of the writing closet about the time I decided I was serious. If I was going to do this, and I was, then I was going to go all the way. Now most people know I write, though I'm taking so long they've stopped asking how it's going. I don't think most have a realistic view of the process.

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    1. I can't blame them. I had no idea how the writing/publishing process actually worked before I got into this.

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  5. Love this! I can so relate. I'm actively trying to keep my writing persona separate from my professional persona - I've only told a few close friends about it. It won't last. I know that. But I'm okay with it too. Because once I publish I'll be ready to tell the whole world. Watch out!

    And yeah, I agree with other commenters - talking about it is hard, especially when I get the standard response of 'Why don't you just self-publish?' Most people have no idea what goes into the process and it's just too hard to explain it. Telling people I'm published is much easier (someday!)

    Cracking up about the binge drinking. According to Stephen King, 'Writers who drink constantly do not last long, but a writer who drinks carefully is probably a better writer.' Guess I need to work on the careful part.

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    1. Yes! I'm actually working on a post about how to keep your professional (technical) writing separate from your creative writing.

      I'd love to hear what you (and others) have to say about it.

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  6. Glad you came out of the closet! (You got some lint on your shoulder there. Yeah, right there. Brush it off...)

    As you're probably aware, that was something I just recently did as well. Always good to have company. Safety in numbers and all that.

    There is a woman at work who should be a writer, but isn't. Why should she be a writer? Because she looks like one. No stereotypical traits or anything (that I can identify) but I look at her and just want to say, "Write, woman!" Of course, I don't think she knows I write either, but that's beside the point.

    Enjoyed the post!

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    1. Now I have a Jay-Z song stuck in my head.

      "Get, that, lint of yo' shoulda..."

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  7. This is hilarious. " --binge drinker-- *writer* " indeed. No, I actually am a writer as a profession (I write proposals for a government IT contractor) and am working on a degree in science-medical writing. So people know I'm a writer. People don't necessarily know I write fiction as well and have done for 10+ years. I mean, all of my friends know, but fellow students and coworkers occasionally give me funny looks, like writing fiction is something only done by very non-serious women with too many cats or no chance at a social life. And admitting to writing fanfiction (which is a good mental break! don't judge!) is like the kiss of death in some places.

    So I guess I might be a little in the closet when it comes to being a fiction writer. But frankly I'm not making any effort to hide it. It got easier when I started identifying myself as a writer in all those many bio-tag-lines you need for every social networking site.

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    1. Yeah, I feel like Fantasy is viewed by many as pretty low on the hierarchy of writing, only slightly above fan fiction (which is a bunch of crap). Do you find it's hard to switch between professional writing and fiction without losing your voice?

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    2. Most of the time I have to adopt a sort of "company persona" for the professional writing, so no when it comes to that. I have a bit of a hard time switching between working on writing for grad school (nonfiction in my voice) and fiction, but mostly I don't work on those projects on the same days.

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  8. Oh, heavens, I felt like wrapping my ambitions in a brown paper bag like it was hooch from the corner liquor store.

    Now I stand tall and say, "I'm a writer". Family and friends still smirk and roll their eyes but I felt better about it, LOL.

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  9. Ha, you're right - that is weird we both wrote about this topic around the same time! I just found your blog today, too. Collective consciousness I guess :)

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