. . . you get the same reactions we have been getting since the creation of dirt. We get questions: where do you get your ideas? We get “help.” “Boy, we should team up and I’ll tell you my life story and you can write it up and it will be a guaranteed best seller.” We get misunderstood, especially on the nature of our work. “I guess you just sit at home all day typing and the money pours in.” We get the rather disheartening question, “what do you write?” which often means, “have I ever heard of you, and if not, I’ll go talk to someone else.” these reactions are usually from people we’ve just met or who don’t know us well. Friends we have gotten to know, or who have gotten to know us, at least have some understanding of what we do and how we do it and are much needed cheerleaders and supporters.
So, when a friend of mine confessed she had enough material for two non-fiction books already compiled, including photos, and hinted that she would like to “do something” with them, my reaction was to issue a caution. This is someone I take seriously, as I have a lot of respect for her business management skills. She’s no wannabe. If she says she has enough material, I know it’s true.
My caution was this: Be careful who you tell, at least at this point. She can tell me or another writer. Hesitate before mentioning her plans to anyone else. Then I told her one of the gentler incidents in my own writing life. I had published my first book of poems and was at an event where I knew quite a few people. One of them was a lady I’m very close to, to whom I wanted to give a copy of the book. When I did, the woman next to her, whom I knew slightly, got animated. But it wasn’t about me or my book. Her response was, “Oh, my granddaughter wants to write a children’s book. What should she do?” Sheesh. First of all, this moment was supposed to be about me and my work. Second, I don’t write for children. Third, there are no easy answers or advice to give. I probably mumbled something about The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and left the scene. There’s a reason why cops socialize with other cops and physicians with other physicians, etc. There are lots of perfectly wonderful people who don’t “get” us. They make cherished friends and often are great supporters. Still, be careful. I’m just sayin’.