Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Popping the Question

"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!


Anonymous said...

Just finished a book I think you'd like - How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore. It's a quick read.

You're definitely a writer. Oh, and Travis?

You're my favorite.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

"Shunning Normalcy" -- what a title that would make!

Charles Gramlich said...

It is amazing the reactions you get. boggles the mind.

Eric said...

I feel your pain, Travis. I know everyone at my day job "knows" I write, but they probably won't really categorize me as a writer until I publish something. Besides web articles, anyway. That's okay though. I know it'll come about someday. And then I can come into work with an ARC and stun everyone. That would be so cool.

Clair Dickson said...

Personally, I love messing with people's expectations like that.

Teaches them to be more careful with their assumptions-- especially those based on superficial traits, like appearance.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

It's myself I have to remind as much as anyone. Real writers are people who write. Plain and simple. Why does it have to be so humbling to say I am a writer ?

Lynnette Labelle said...

I could totally hear the whole conversation. LOL Yep. I get those, too. Just wait until you start saying author instead of writer. Then they really won't know what to say.

Lynnette Labelle

Terri Tiffany said...

Travis, thanks for stopping back over to my blog. I love your style of writing but didn't know you wrote romance! Just wrote a book abou a man who did. love that!

Old Kitty said...

Amen to that!!


People's perceptions are so bizarre really. It's good to shake them up now and again!

Take care

Texanne said...

Travis, you are indeed a writer. Not all writers look like Truman Capote or Anne Rice. The other day someone told me I "rocked the paradigm."

So, I'll pass that on to you: you rock the paradgm.

G said...

I usually get the following:

1) strange look when I tell people I write.

2) stranger when I tell people I blog.

3) one very visual step back when I tell people I write about sex.

and yeah, you are a writer.

Sarah Hina said...

You are undoubtedly a writer. And I love to read your words.

Oh, and tell them "Erotica" next time. That'll make their eyes pop.

Slave Driver said...

I've found that wearing a tweed coat with leather patches on the elbows, fondling my goatee, and holding a pipe helps create the image that I am a writer.Especially if you can always do it with a set of bookshelves behind you and a sleeping Irish Setter at your feet. Next to a roaring fireplace, of course.

Except, you know, I'm a 49 year old woman. That throws them off a bit.

And it doesn't matter what *they* think, anyway. People are shocked, after meeting me in person, that I write RoMaNcE! (Apparently I look more like a "Plumbing for Dummies" kinda writer...)

Just because we all don't look like Danielle Steele doesn't make us any less romantic. Fugly people need love too.

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL I love this! And it's so true. Teasing the reader...yes, that's a great way to put it!

T. Anne said...

Yes, you ARE a writer! And an awesome one too. I can attest to this since I still have your ABNA entry logged into my Kindle ;) I love that you said romance, right there, out loud! I would have loved to seen the looks on their faces. Fun post.

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, when I tell people that I'm writing a novel, their look tells me that I might just as well have told them that I'm trying out for the Houston Astros.

Rick said...

Okay, that was a great writing story! And I agree with Debra, "Shunning Normalcy" would make an excellent title.

the walking man said...

Try telling someone you're a poet. The next thing is recite a poem. I don't memorize my poetry so I always go to Stephen Crane "In The Desert"

That usually ends that conversation rather quickly.

I AM a poet.

Barbara Martin said...

You'll get there, Travis. Richard Mabry writes romantic medical suspense, begun after he retired from medicine.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Charles... it is amazing the reactions you get. Boggles the mind.