"You are a writer?" Heavy on the question mark.
This is the first reaction I get, when either I personally reveal my passion or it comes out via a comment someone else makes. It happened again this weekend when in my RCIA class. Of course my long standing friends that are in the class already knew this about me, but 90% of the sponsors and fellow converts had no idea. Attempting to articulate a particular point I said, "Help me out, I can't think of the right word."
At once those in the class who really know me said, "You're a writer. If you can't think of the right word how are we supposed to."
At that point half the class turned and looked at me. I've been attending weekly meeting with these people since November of last year but suddenly they felt the need to squint and study me. I could see it there in there eyes. Him, that big hairy dude? He's a writer.
I was not surprised when afterwords in the hall several approached me. I even knew the question they would ask.
"So what do you write?"
I could have told them I was working on a memoir, or that my last endeavor was a comedic novel. Or that I've been been getting paid to write freelance football articles. I could have but those answers would not have shocked them. Unless they were avid readers or closet writers themselves it is possible that answering with any of those would have made their eyes glaze over. But I knew from experience how to make their eyes widen.
"Romance mostly," I said, "But a bit of humor writing as well."
Again the studied scrutiny. I see them take in my 6'5 frame. My thick bushy goatee. My ample beer gut. The cowboy boots on my feet. Yeah they are surprised. Sometimes they laugh as if I've made a joke. I can tell they are skeptical at best and this is the part where I love it when a friend that has actually read my work is nearby because they will say, "And it's really good too."
That third part affirmation is all it takes truly grab their attention. To make them ask more questions and dive deeper into my thought process for shunning normalcy.
But if like Sunday there is no one around to offer that credibility nearly always the person will scoot away as if they nearly got caught up in a conversation with a crazy person.
I now realize readers do the same thing. We as writers must hook them, possible even shock our readers to make them turn the page, but we must do so in a manner that is believable. And no, not all hooks rely on the shock factor, but a character must have motivation for his or her actions whether they are shocking or not. And no you don't have to reveal the truth of that motivation but you have to hint at the possibilities. Tease the reader. Of course in the end you have to justify what you're selling. My friends that offer their support do so because they have read and have been sucked into the stories I've created. Friends are however much easier to please than agents and editors, but I am a writer so keep plugging away.
I am a writer.
Others will continue to punctuate the statement how they see fit, but I refuse to add a question mark. I do however lust for the day when I can write ... I am a writer!