Hey, Did I Ask For Your Input On My Book? Oh yeah, I did.

blah blah 2Why can’t people just be quiet? Why must we always vomit from the mouth? Do you ever have moments where you so badly want to tell someone about the story you’re working on, but you know in your heart you really should just keep your mouth closed? I do this all the time. I have these ideas in my head and I’ve just put them down on paper, and I want so badly to share it with someone that I find myself begging and pleading with those around me to let me tell them about it. It’s usually my very tight writing friends, my husband and sometimes even my kids. (I know, I must be desperate).

Maybe I’m looking for validation that the story is good? That I’m on the right track? Sometimes that’s the case. Other times I just want to bounce the idea off of someone because maybe the story isn’t making sense and I want to brainstorm a bit. I find just “speaking” about my topic to someone helps me to break it out further in my head. Sometimes saying things out loud has a way of making things sound, well, not so great and then I know there are inconsistencies and issues that I need to address.

Of course, then there are the random people you meet in daily life who find out you write and ask “what are you working on?” That’s when I should just learn to be quiet and say, “Oh, it’s a YA novel, haven’t gotten it flushed out yet.” Yeah, getting me to be quiet is another blog onto its own. I invariably start spewing, hoping for that “OMG, that sounds amazing” reply. Invariably the response is anything but. They give me this quiet stare, or a little crinkle starts between their eyebrows and already I know that this isn’t going to go well. Then I start to back pedal super-fast and try to justify what I’ve just said. Sometimes I feel like I have to justify the entire novel!

This doesn’t just happen to me with strangers. I have an 11 year old son this happens with all the time. He’s a super high fuctioning Aspie and he loves to come into my room and read over my shoulder when I’m writing (which yes, I find distracting). I love the kid to death, but this is never a good thing. He’ll read something and that little crinkle starts between his own brows and then the inevitable line he quotes nearly every time. “Mom, I’m not trying to be rude but you really should write it this way.” He proceeds to correct my grammar (he is not always correct, by the way), changes my plotlines (all off of a one page reading of a 200+ page book) and explain, in detail, how people really don’t like science fiction and fantasy and I really should make things more real life, less violent and more interesting. After I’ve sucked in my breath, I smile and say, “kiddo, while I appreciate the suggestions, this is my book and this is how I want to write it.” This is usually followed by a “My mom just doesn’t understand anything” shrug and he says, “Just trying to help.” I always make the suggestion that he should write his own book and then he can write whatever he’d like. (that never works – for him that feels like homework and he skedaddles quickly away at any mention of that).

The bottom line on those crinkled brows. I don’t think people are judging. Well, maybe they are, but I did open up the can of worms in the first place. People are built to have opinions, we’re wired to think differently and if you put yourself out there, be prepared for what is going to come back. BUT, food for thought for all you people on the other end of that author’s rant… Here’s what a writer REALLY wants to hear (well, me) … Unless I’ve paid you a tremendous amount of money to edit and destroy my manuscript, or asked you to beta read, or really said, “tell me what you think,” what I really want you to do is just nod and smile. I’m just actually looking for support. I’m really just brainstorming out loud. Trust me, it won’t read like this when it’s done. Well, hopefully it won’t.

So folks, I’d love to hear from you if you have this same problem and, what is your solution?

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12 thoughts on “Hey, Did I Ask For Your Input On My Book? Oh yeah, I did.

  1. As I’m quite a new writer, I haven’t had too much of this yet. But one occasion springs to mind: I told my husband about a very honest blog post I was thinking about writing and got quite a negative reaction. It wasn’t about him, I hasten to add, but it was about my relationship with another family member and hubby seemed to think I would just come across as a bitter and twisted person. (Which I’m not – I hope!) So that kind of put me off. I’ve put it on the back burner for now while I think about it… 😉

  2. I always say, you just have to be prepared for any outcome if you put something in writing. Be aware everything can come back to bite you, or it can release you – either way, understand if you write it, it will live on the internet.

  3. Ah, the dreaded, “What are you working on?” 🙂 I’ve found this to be a “How are you?” kind of question. We ask it all the time but, in reality, we don’t want or expect an honest answer from someone — unless they’re family or close friends. Give it a try sometime. When someone politely asks, “How you doin’?” give them a really detailed answer. The reaction can be quite amusing 😉

  4. I can absolutely relate! I once had a very persuasive class of fifth graders wheedle the story line of a sequel in my series out of me, and then they proceeded to give unsolicited advice. Apparently Cassidy needs to fight aliens. 😉

    • Yes, in my son’s eyes, everything should be pink ponies and flowers… life is good, comical, and happy. Which on its own is nice, but not with an adult contemporary spiritual thriller!

  5. I agree with Alan, it’s more like the conventional how are you question. If I were a writer, I would respond with the same depth as I would to how are you. So mostly I would give a very general answer.

  6. I am working on a number of things, actually, but one of them is a series of fables based on the four seasons of healing. That is the easiest answer I have been able to think of. Try telling that to almost anyone and see their reaction!!! Their eyes glaze over. I guess the good news is that they usually say “that’s nice” or “interesting” (I am reasonably sure they do not mean “good” interesting!) and walk away because it is something they cannot even get their head around enough to critisize. But I do know what you mean about keeping your mouth shut. Sometimes an idea just bubbles to the surface and I am so excited it is hard to keep it inside.

  7. I think a lot of people just don’t know what to say, because the whole process of writing a book (or blog) is outside of what they know. I’ve had people ask me if I just sit down and write my books off the cuff, and they are usually surprised to hear how much planning goes into them. I guess I’m the same way when I run into people who tell me they’re building a 3D printer or designing a video game. I haven’t a clue, so I smile and nod but can’t contribute a whole lot in the way of an intelligent comment.

  8. I’ve learned the best solution is to be as vague as possible without allowing the possibility of a great review to entice me… 🙂 I also find it helps me stay on task with my writing more, as well! I want to get it done so I can finally have a finished product to speak about. 🙂

  9. Elyse – I love that you wrote about this. It’s interesting how our writing can be deflated or stalled by criticism or lack of enthusiasm from others. Crazy! Thanks for the post… great to remember to keep our mouths shut.. right? Or not be so surprised when others don’t. LOL

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