A WRITER’S MOMENT OF TRUTH
By now, most of my friends and family know I wrote a book (VODKA FOUR and still available at amazon.com) and maybe — just maybe — consider me a writer (yay!). But for a very long time, I didn’t tell anyone about my dream to be a writer. I don’t really remember the defining moment when my parents and sisters knew I wanted to write, but they’ve known about my dream for a long time. Even when VODKA FOUR was published, I was still shy about telling people that I wrote a book. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed. And I didn’t really care if people thought the book was terrible. I was shy about revealing my dream — I guess.
I’ve always been a practical gal. When my sisters and I were younger, they wanted Porsches and Lamborginis and other fancy cars. I wanted a blue four-door car. That’s all I wanted. Blue is my favorite color. I absolutely hate climbing over a front seat to sit in the back seat — the reason for four doors. Simple. Practical. My point is that I don’t really dream big — I want the realistic dreams. However, I admit I wanted to be an actress, pop singer, or fashion model when I was young and stupid. At one point, I wanted to be an artist — at age 7 or 8, I thought I had real talent.
But why was I so shy about telling friends and family that I love to write and I want to write a book? The possibility of being mocked? The possibility of people thinking I’m already a failure? Disappointment? High expectations? Here’s the tricky area: Although I honestly don’t care about what people might say about my writing, people are interested in reading my work. And when people read my work, they might think I suck. But I don’t CARE if they think I suck. See the really odd dilemma? I’ve always thought of myself as an easygoing and outgoing person who has no problem sharing personal tidbits and funny stories about my life.
Do I have an issue with people reading my work and thinking what I’m writing is about my life? I had plenty of experience being a single woman. I have good times with my friends. I’ve overanalyzed the demise of any relationship. I draw on my life experiences in my books, but really, the books aren’t about me. Am I afraid of that perception? Also, I’m pretty sure my readers know the main character or secondary characters aren’t me or my life. Even though one character may look like me (pretty, Korean, and short), she’s still not me.
I am very, very, very, very grateful for the support from friends and family. I very much appreciate that my good friends have the decency to lie to me and tell me the book is amazing and fantastic. And maybe that’s why I’m shy about telling people that I wrote a book (I’m actually just figuring this out while I’m typing). I love VODKA FOUR and so incredibly happy that I have a published book, but the book isn’t my best work. Does that make sense? If I had taken the time for rewrites and edits, would I be less shy? I would be more proud of the book? Once again, I love the book, but when I flip through it now, I could definitely make some minor — and major — changes.
A couple of weeks ago, Charlie and I had met some of his classmates at a local coffee shop. Charlie and his friends were doing homework, and I was working on my next book. One of his friends (Max — not his real name) asked me what I was working on since I don’t attend school and don’t have homework (wooooot!). When I mentioned I was writing a book, he told me that one of his friends is also a writer. And that’s all Max knew about his writer friend because his friend refused to let anyone read her work or really talk about her work. I completely understand her mentality. I was very shy about even talking about my book with Charlie when we first started dating. I probably needed a few months to completely open up to him about VODKA FOUR.
When Max told me that he didn’t know much about his friend’s work, I was kind of relieved to know that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only shy writer in the world. I might be shy about my work, but I have no problem asking my sisters and other friends to read over the first draft. Critiques are important because I want to publish a good book. While I may not agree with some of the critiques or notes, suggestions make me think or look at certain situations or characters differently. Critiques honestly push me to become a better writer. And maybe once I’m a better writer, I won’t be so shy. Maybe.
Categories: Jennifer Elliott