If you’re a writer, I’m willing to bet you laughed, didn’t you? That particular statement, or a variation of it, is a classic friends and family response to hearing the big news that you, oh, long lost bestie and all-time favorite cousin, have written a book that, without a doubt, is going to be the book of all books…the next Lord of the Rings or Misery or Montana Sky. The piece of art that will propel you from an ordinary, Cheerios-for-breakfast kind of gal or guy to that of a high-profile celebrity, crepes and strawberries included.
I’ve experienced all sorts of responses from my friends and family since publishing my debut novel in February. The most common is something akin of “YOU wrote a book like THAT? Wow, Mr. McLain must be one lucky guy!” That, of course, meaning there’s lots of sex and four-letter words. I’ll admit that initially…this was embarrassing as heck. I thought my secret was pretty safe until I called in an order to a local restaurant one day and, before I could even the let waitress know my intent, she gushed and congratulated me and told me that everyone was talking about my book. Some of the other staff were even reading it. They wanted to know if I was making a bunch of money. Was I going to quit my day job? Would we (my family) move?
LOL I still laugh at that. Non-writing people truly do not understand that becoming an author do not mean we’ve become instantly famous. Heck, we sometimes never sell more than a handful of books…and even then at least a couple are to ourselves (gifts *wink, wink*) or maybe a few loved ones who feel sorry for us. We definitely don’t become overnight millionaires and we’re really, really lucky to even make a part-time living with writing, let alone garner enough earnings to equate a modest fulltime career. We might be a little famous in our own minds or in our circle of writer friends, but that’s often the extent of it. There can only be so many Tolkiens and Kings and Roberts in the world, after all.
As more and more people find out that I’ve published a book, the more these kinds of responses and questions are coming up. Today, I was all chill in my day job office, doing my thing when a woman from another department came sliding in and shut the door behind herself, all secretive like. “You wrote an effing book? Are you kidding me?” she asked, her jaw dragging on the carpet. “I am so reading it this weekend,” she went on. I blinked a few times and blurted out my standard warning, “It’s kinda trashy,” because I know that the people I work with, even more so than my family, just don’t see me as being the type of person to swear, much less write a steamy, sometimes vulgar novel. Thankfully, I’ve encountered more big grins and confessions about secretly loving sexy books than I have negativity, but it’s no less daunting when the rich and famous assumptions come into play. Mostly because I fear people will end up thinking I must really suck as an author when I remain living in my same little house and driving my same boring car. I might get my hair highlighted or splurge on a cool new purse, but that’s about the extent of it, ya know?
So, I’m curious…if you’re a writer, what are some of the reactions you receive when people find out you write? If you’re a reader, do you know someone who’s written a book? Were you surprised to find out what they wrote, and did you have any preconceived ideas about what writing/selling/publishing a book would mean for them? Tell me, tell me! I curious!