Friday, September 22, 2006

Writer's Digest, writing secretly, and email

I have become a compulsive email checker in the last few weeks.

I didn't use to be this way. In fact, until two weeks ago I had to remind myself to check it, or I would end up going several days without opening Outlook. What changed?

My agent contacts me by email.

So now I hit send/receive at least four times a day, and with my schedule that is really ridiculous because she is only likely to write me between 9 and 5. But at midnight I still can't resist hitting the button and seeing if something new slips into my box. I foresee this growing into a really bad habit.

I noticed something interesting recently. I subscribe to Writer's Digest because, well, I write, so it seems the thing to do. In the last few months they have been sending me renewal slips saying I can get 2 years for 1 low price...2 years (12 issues) for only $29.96 as opposed to 1 year (6 issues) for $19.96. The thing I'm confused about is that the little postcard ads that fall out of the magazine claim that if I return that card I'll get 2 free issues and a year’s subscription (12 issues in all) for only $19.96. So what’s the deal? Do I get 12 issues in a year or 6? I get the feeling they must have recently changed their policy because it seems like I am not getting magazines as often as I used to. Anyone know what’s really going on?

Jumping topics: several weeks ago I set up a myspace account to check out the networking possibilities. I'm not yet sure if it will ever be useful or just a time-sink, but it did lead me to an interesting blog today. One of the topics Fred talks about is that he is embarrassed to tell people he is a writer.

I know the feeling.

I've been writing stories since I was around eight, (mostly very bad stories,) and have always treated writing like a dirty little secret. My immediate family knew but that was about it. I didn't even let anyone else read most of it, except my mother--poor woman.
In high school my friends thought I took really good notes because I was always scribbling in notebooks during class. I never told them I wanted to be a novelist. I think my college roommate thought I had a long distance boyfriend. I never started such ideas, but I didn't correct them either.

My husband I had to tell, of course, and that's how my secret initially got out. It started when he offered to let quit my full-time job and focus on my writing, (who could say no to that?) I keep the house clean and make sure meals are on the table, I also work part-time doing books for a small company-- the rest of the time is mine. It's a trial thing. I already had DH written when he made this offer, but I needed to edit it and get it out in the world. If DH can't find an editor, I'll probably get another full-time job. (I can't stand the idea of being a louse, so even if he doesn't ask me, I’ll end up going back.)

Well, I wanted to keep the agreement a secret, but he told his mother that I quit my job and that I was working on a book. I think she must have told everyone else. The day after I left, I was at a friends wedding and my brother-in-law's girlfriend asked me about it. Boy was I thrown for a good one.

What should I tell people when they ask what I do? "I'm a writer who hasn't published any books, but I'm working on it." The next question is inevitably "What do you write?" or "What's your book about?" I hate those questions. I've even written down and tried to memorize intelligent sounding answers, but when the time comes I stumble all over my tongue and end up saying something stupid, vague, and convoluted. It's awful.

The other way my secret got out was my own fault, but a necessity. I chose some of my friend's friends to read my novel because I knew they read in genre and hoped they wouldn't be too biased to give me an honest critique. Well, of course then my friends inevitably found out, so the secret was out.
My friends and family know...and it's dreadfully uncomfortable. Faceless people on the internet I will gladly tell I'm writing, but in person the game is up and I become a babbling idiot.

Hopefully if I ever manage to get published I will have enough confidence to promote my own work. God help me if I don't, because self-promotion is important and if I don't believe in my writing, who will?


fred charles said...

Self-promotion is the hardest thing for me. I wish I could do it more often. I should be proud of my work but for some reason I have a problem talking about it.

Rachel Vincent said...

I know what you mean about the email. I write full time, and my work computer has internet access. I should turn it off, but I don't, in case there's an emergency.

You know, something like, "Rachel, we need the revised synopsis for Rogue RIGHT NOW so we can send it to the art department, which is meeting right now to design your next cover!"

That kind of thing. So far, that hasn't happened, but I can't let go of, "What if it does?"

So, I check my email a couple of times an hour. It's an illness. ;-)

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

Fred: We should ask around and see if this is a common issue for writers. Of course the cabbie you spoke to didn't have a problem talking about his work, so maybe not.

Rachel: At least I know I'm not the only one. I wonder if they have a nice fancy name for obsessively checking email.