“So what have you been up to lately?”
I made eye contact with my hairdresser in the large mirror as she used a comb to section off my hair.
I’m going to do it, I thought. I am going to be brave and tell her I wrote a book.
“Well, I wrote a book,” I said.
She hesitated. “Oh. Cool. Um. What’s it about?”
I continue to tell her it’s a middle grade, modern day fantasy.
“Oh. Nice. What else is new?”
I get this response — or switching of the subject — a lot when I tell people I’ve written a book. It’s as if people don’t know how to respond. Or they’re uninterested. Or they think I’m weird. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the psychology behind their returns. But I do know one thing. If you’re looking for a good way to make people uncomfortable, just tell them you’ve written a book. That’ll most definitely do the trick.
It didn’t take me long to realize that people (aside from a few supporters) don’t want to hear about my book. This was after several attempts at a casual conversation with various individuals. This includes close friends and family.
Now I know what you must think, “She’s obviously narcissistic and is looking for any opportunity to talk about herself.” But that’s just not true. In fact, for the longest time I only told my mom, best friend and husband that I was writing a book. Once I finished it, however, I thought, “Why the heck not?” So being proud of my accomplishment, I started telling a few people. Their reactions were a let down.
And I’m not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. I posted in a group of Facebook writers, if anyone had encountered this. I didn’t expect so many responses! (See images below.)
So why does a book of all things make people so uneasy? Here are a few bullets to consider:
- They’re jealous. Many people dream about writing a book and most will never do it. Perhaps it’s your friend’s life goal. You talking about it is salt in an open wound.
- They think you’re kidding yourself. You’ll never have it published. You’re just sharing a pipe dream. They don’t want to be the one to tell you it’s not going to happen.
- They assume you’re no good. If you were, you’d have been published by now… right?
- You’ve said it before and they’re tired of not seeing the finished product.
- It’s you, not them. I’m no psychologist (though I took three college psych classes, so close enough), but I think sometimes when we feel weird about something, it makes others feel weird. Maybe they sense your awkwardness.
You’re right. None of that is fair. If you’ve finished a book, you’ve done something incredible and you deserve encouragement as much as your friend who lost 50 pounds (maybe more). But until you have a printed book in hand, don’t expect much. And even then, all of these things may still apply.
Well, this is all great, but what can you do to not let their lack of support sting so much?
- Reward yourself! Did you do that when you finished your book? I didn’t. I put a post on Facebook that got a couple likes, but beyond that, no. but once I finish this draft, I’m making it a plan to pull a Donna and Tom and treat myself (see Parks and Rec). Maybe I’ll go to a movie or buy a gift or go to the spa. Whether your book is published or not, writing an entire book is a major thing and you deserve to “treat yo’self.”
- Join a writers’ group. Writers enjoy hearing about writing. Non writers don’t care so much. Consider joining a forum, local group, etc. to get the support and community you crave.
- Thank your friends and family who do care (there are probably more than you think). Especially if they’ve given your book a read through. Consider giving them a gift, buy them a coffee, give back to something they’re passionate about. You have to be a friend to have a friend. Don’t take their support for granted.
Again, and I can’t say this enough. You have created something amazing. Even if you never publish it, or even if you self publish and only one person reads it, you did it! You wrote a book. Don’t let other people’s reactions become about you. Let their reactions be about them. And if you’re gracious, they may just come around one day.