Some time ago (a year? two? oy, the memory fades when you hit forty) a friend of mine made a comment to me that—despite my age—I will never forget. She told me I didn’t “posture” myself like a writer.
It hit me a like a sledgehammer (or maybe an anvil) and I’ve contemplated that statement more times than I can count. At first I was rather clueless as to what she meant. But after much thought, I think I’ve figured it out.
I think it’s easiest to explain by starting with what it’s not.
Posturing yourself like a writer is NOT:
- Saying to people, “I’m not a writer, but…” I have met so many people at writers meetings who say that. Hello, if you’re not a writer what are you doing here? What is that STORY that you WROTE doing in your hand? If you are a new writer, say, “I am a new writer.” Or, “I’m here to learn.” But do not say that you are not a writer at all.
- Apologizing for your writing when you let people read it. It is one thing to say that something is your first draft. But do not blather on about how awful you are at characterization or description. Don’t tell everyone your grammar stinks. Don’t bury the treasure by forcing a reader to only see the ugly.
- Being wishy-washy about the purpose of your writing. Does your writing have a strong message (religious, social, etc.)? Or are you proud of your subtlety and symbolism? Did you purposely choose to write for pure entertainment? If someone asks you about it, be sure in what you say. Know who your audience is and don’t be apologetic if someone you’re talking to doesn’t fit that audience.
- Assuming no one is going to like your concept, genre, etc. “Oh, my book is kind of weird. Probably not your thing….” Really? How do you know? Maybe the person you are talking to just forgot to wear their Doctor Who shirt today.
I’ve been guilty of all of those. Hence, my friend telling me I didn’t posture myself like a writer. I still find myself doing variances of the above. Mentioning at a Christian writers group, as I introduce myself, that I write “fantasy and sci-fi, basically weird stuff”—and conveniently leaving off horror which actually makes up the bulk of my short stories.
Or completely blowing past my beloved genres in favor of focusing on my stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Why? Because I assume a someone older/conservative/whatever won’t want to read such strangeness as I normally write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been astounded to find the person I least expect loving my weird, dark stories.
Shame, shame, Kat.
More recently it has come in the form of not wanting to “force” people to listen to me tell them about my book. I have yet to talk about it much outside of my writing circles because I fear those non-writers just aren’t going to understand. But they do—they are my friends and want to be happy for me.
And similarly, asking for people to review. A certain site I love is dedicated to reviewing books for teens. I’ve known for a long time I wanted to send Finding Angel to them, but now that it’s out…well, it took everything I had to send that email asking if they would consider it. I have to stop thinking about the possibility that people aren’t going to like my book. Bad reviews will happen, but I can’t pass up the possibility of a good review that might reach hundreds of people because I’m afraid.
Other things, too, like the fact that I *should* be toting around my books in my car everywhere I go, and I really ought to have a pocketful of business cards at all times. Oh, and actually hand those cards out, too. Sigh…
I am working on it though. I’ve come out of my shell with my homeschool group, and I’ve actually been asked to speak at a career day on what it’s like to be a writer. With each bit of effort I can feel my vertebrae popping into place, as I stand taller, proud of what I’m accomplishing. My posture is changing, bit by bit.
How about you? How are you standing these days, dear Writer?