Do Nonwriters Get It?

Writers get other writers. We do. One of the reasons I loved going to the ACFW conference last year, and one of the reasons I’m excited to go again this year, is that everybody gets it. When I say something like, “I’m not published”, people don’t secretly think, “She must be lousy.” Because writers understand seeking publication is often a two-step-forward-1.99-step-back endeavor.

Or if I say, “I have to sacrifice time with friends, sometimes family, and even sleep, in order to get my writing in” people don’t secretly think, “Why is she giving up important things for a hobby?”. Because writers understand that our pursuit involves sacrifice, and while those sacrifices aren’t easy, they’re ultimately worth it.

I love talking about writing with other writers. But in the real world, where I hear and touch and converse, how often am I with other writers? I’d say about once a year, for three days. So what do I do with those other 362 days of the year? Do I keep my writing to myself?

Last Monday, Heather asked:
Do you often talk to your family about the writing process? I’m just curious how other family members connect to your struggles/successes as an author.

Here’s my answer:
Yes, I do talk to my family and friends about the writing process. Not all of them and certainly not all the time, but there are a select few I share with. Like Heather said in her comment, my husband hears the bulk of it. He truly gets it. He understands. In fact, I’ve heard him on the phone before, with his family or friends and he’ll say something like, “No, she’s not published, but she has an agent, which is huge and getting published is super hard. Plus, the industry is moving slow…” Makes me smile. Makes me think there should be a writing retreat for our spouses, so they can get together and commiserate, because they get what it means to be married to a writer.

He’s not the only one I talk to though. Other family members and friends ask questions, and I do my best to answer them. I don’t start conversations about it, but if they ask, I attempt to share my struggles and successes. Some get it. Some don’t. When I told people I got an agent, not everybody understood. Some smiled when they should have screamed. Some patted me on the back when they should have grabbed me around the waist and jumped up and down. Some blinked at me and said something like, “Do you have to pay her with your own money?” I could tell they worried I’d fallen prey to an online scam. Those responses aren’t wrong, they just showcase the lack of understanding.

But, I do have these two friends. These two amazing women who are not writers, but for some God-blessed reason, totally get it. They got super excited when I left for my first conference. They wanted to hear all about it when I got back. They jumped and squealed and hugged me when I told them about getting an agent. Both of them could tell you about the importance of an agent, what the agent does, the chain of hands my manuscript passes through before it reaches Pub Board, and how Pub Board is the make-it-or-break it meeting. They’ve read all my books and can’t wait for me to finish my 5th. I’m 100% positive God put these two women in my life to encourage and uplift me when the whole pursuit has me feeling discouraged and alone. Both of these women know, with a confidence so much greater than my own, that it isn’t a matter of if I get published, but when.

I realize I’m completely blessed. It’s hard to come by people like this. A lot of it we can’t control. It comes down to chemistry, and timing, and personalities meshing.

But here’s one thing I do know:
I would have completely missed the blessing if I wouldn’t have taken that first frightening step and told them I’m a writer to begin with. That simple admission opened the door for the relationship we have now. So don’t be afraid to tell people you’re a writer. Don’t be afraid to answer their questions, even if 95% of the people you tell, won’t get it. The 5% that do make up for the rest.

Questions to Ponder: Do you share your writing struggles/successes with friends and family? Do they get it?

*Thanks to Melissa and Susan, my two blessings, and the others (you know who you are) who’ve supported and encouraged me along the way.removetweetmeme

31 thoughts on “Do Nonwriters Get It?

  1. Rhonda Schrock

    I love this! Thanks. I share very little with most of my family members. It's disappointing when your good news just – lands on the ground in front of your feet. But the people that 'get' it…well, now. That's a gift.

  2. Lauren

    I only talk seriously writing talk with my best friend. I have talked about it before with some of my co-workers, and they were interested and thought it was cool, but my best friend is someone who I can talk to my writing about with abandon. She gets it because she used to write a lot of poetry, however she's stepped out of the hobby for now. So, I guess she still qualifies as a non-writer, maybe…

    It's harder to talk about it with my mom because every time I do, I always get the feeling that she's being a little condescending about the seriousness of my writing. She knows I'm trying to write a book, but when I tell her I haven't made much headway with it I think that gives her a bad impression of the writing life.

    I told myself that I would do a lot of writing this summer, but after two busy and hectic semesters of school, I just couldn't bring myself to buckle down. I really just wanted a break from discipline and schedules.

    Surprisingly, a lot of people I've told about my book think it's cool that I'm working on something so big. Probably because they've never actually heard of someone who seriously pursued authorship. I've heard mostly that a person should never tell someone they want to be a writer. However, I think it's just a matter of preference. If you're comfortable with fielding questions from people about your craft, I don't see a problem with it.

  3. Erin MacPherson

    Hi Katie! Thanks for dropping by my (pathetic, new, undeveloped) blog last week!! I appreciate it!! I read your novel summaries and they look fantastic… can't wait to read them when they're published!!!

  4. Slamdunk

    I bet that is difficult getting the uninformed public to understand the writing process.

    Though I don't write to be published, I have a difficult time explaining why this "hobby" of mine takes up so much time. Most folks don't get it.

  5. Heather Sunseri

    I so agree, Katie! I talk to very few people about my writing. I have a few friends who know I write, but they don't "get it" when I tell them I can't do something because I'm writing. I'm looking forward to making some face-to-face contact with my online writing buddies in September!

  6. Julia M. Reffner

    Found you from T.Anne and was intrigued by the fact that you do all your writing early in the morning. I'm a late night writer…I mostly share with my husband. He is very supportive. In fact he gave me a laptop this spring when I told him I wanted to recapture my dream of writing. I don't think all of my friends really "get it."

  7. Jill Kemerer

    Oh yes, Katie. I share with anyone who is interested, but like you it's not something I get a megaphone out for! And I love the idea of a spouse-support group for writers! Ha!

  8. patti

    If you have time today, drop by and wave to Cynthia Ruchti, my guest.

    She manages to combine humor and angst.
    I can't do it!


  9. Hallie Sawyer

    I have shared with only my husband, my mother, my sister, and two very close friends. I am still writing my first novel and it is so personal to me. The next step for me is taking a writing and attending a conference this Fall. I am okay with total strangers (Twitter and the blogging community)know that I am a writer but those whom I see on a daily basis, I have kept in the dark. For me, I think I will wait to share more until I have my book finished and ready to query. So glad you have people close to you that get it. What a difference it makes!

    So glad I found your blog! I look forward to going back through your old posts.

  10. Kelly Freestone

    I share, but their eyes glaze over after a few sentances.

    I mostly count on my co-worker who supports me a lot, my husband and my writerly friends here on blogsphere.

    They're great.

    Thanks for the post πŸ™‚

  11. Christopher

    Artists are always misunderstood… takes a lot of strength to stick to it.

  12. Susan J. Reinhardt

    Hi Katie –

    I share with people about my writing. Several of my family and friends are supportive and "get it." They cheer me on to the best of their ability.

    The bulk of my support comes from my Blogger friends. You understand the pain of rejection, writers' block, proposals, and all the other things we go through.

    Grateful to know you,
    Susan πŸ™‚

  13. Amie B

    what a great post! you're very blessed to have some cheerleaders in your corner.

    i have a few of them myself, but i guess i never realized how special that is. i'm going to make a point of appreciating them even more now.

  14. T. Anne

    I was just thinking boy I wish I had women like that in my life! But then you followed it up with you opened up with me. Yikes! I have a very difficult time doing that. I wonder if it will ever get easier???

  15. Jill Domschot aka Arabella

    I'm still waiting for a supportive friend who isn't an overworked older guy (my one crit. partner). I need a female friend like the ones you described. How blessed you are! Seriously. My husband is great, though, and so are my church friends, even if they don't completely 'get' it. I have some worm-tongue friends out there, too, whom I would rather do w/o. Life's too short to listen to naysayers, which reminds me that I need to spend some time writing right now!

  16. Jeanette Levellie

    Wow, you sound like me, only way younger!

    NO, I never talk to my extended fam unless they ask, and even then I keep my comments to a miniumum, like this:
    MOM: "How are your books coming?"
    Me: "Oh, fine. 3 publishers have the proposals, and we're waiting to hear back."
    MOM: "Oh, that's nice. Did I tell you it rained for four days straight last week?"

    My hus and kids do get it, because they are all writers, although I'm the only one who's actively pursuing publication.

    And the gals in my Sunday school class are tremendous, even though they don't write, just because they love me. Like your lovely buddies.

    I'd like to go to ACFW this year, but I can't figure out how, since I'm not a member. I just want to go and meet all my blogging buds. C

  17. Cindy R. Wilson

    It's so wonderful you have such supportive friends and family.

    I don't often tell people I am a writer right away. In fact, they usually find out from someone else (like my hubby). Mostly I talk with him about writing but some of my family gets it and another good friend who just yesterday told me she thought it was "amazing" all the work I put into it, how I continued to after my dream. Those little bits encourage me and make me not so secretive about my writing.

  18. Laura Marcella

    This is such a great post! Thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad you have such supportive friends and family!

    I talk about writing with my husband and mom mostly. My dad, sister, brothers, and BFF are really supportive, too. They've been around ever since I first developed these writing dreams, so they totally get it! I don't like to talk about it with anyone other than them, though.

  19. patti

    My pilot brother, who's also a writer, gets it all the way!
    We talked over an hour last night though he is tangled in the BP clean-up!!!

    Sigh. The others? Let's just say they are TRYING TO GET IT.

    Cannot WAIT to see you at conference, girl!!


  20. Erica Vetsch

    My family is sooo supportive. My husband, my kids, my folks, my sister-in-law. Everyone has been so great. And they're enthusiastic supporters of my books, too.

    But you're right, nobody gets it like a fellow writer on the journey.

  21. Sherrinda

    I don't have anyone to talk to. My dad is a writer/editor, but he is so busy right now that I don't have the heart to ask for advice. (Let me name drop here…he is co-writing a book with Michael W. Smith! Cool, huh?) And really, there is nobody else. I know I really need to find a writer's group, but just haven't found the time to do it. So I have all my cyber friends to fill the void. πŸ™‚

  22. Diane

    As an added incentive, telling others could end up being a blessing. You never know who you'll bump into or who knows who and a new opportunity could open up. Be bold, step out! :O)

  23. Julie Jarnagin

    You must be reading my mind. On Saturday, I gave a 10-minute talk to our ACFW group. My first point was "Surround yourself with people who get it. Ignore the rest." I'm like you in that I usually don't talk about my writing unless someone asks about it. Except for my husband. The poor guy gets to hear about it all the time.

  24. Terri Tiffany

    I've got two very loyal friends who boost me up and scream with me whenever anything great happens–the rest- I don't think they get it. My husband and daughter are it for the family. The rest humour me:))

  25. Tiffany Neal

    That's so sweet of your husband, he deserves a gold star! πŸ™‚

    Some get it, most don't. It's hard to tell the "normal" public that my characters keep me up at night talking in my head until I get up and start writing.

    They think that's just plain crazy.

    I can't see why.

  26. Faith

    Some get it, some don't… and some think they do, really think they do, and I have to keep my mouth shut or else I'd be correcting them all the time. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

    For those who don't get it, I emphasize 'freelance writer'. For those who do get it, we talk about my fiction projects. It's a bit of a balancing act…

    You're very fortunate to have two non-writer women who understand and support you πŸ™‚ I'm still working on that!

  27. Wendy Paine Miller

    Wise thoughts. I think my family members enjoy seeing my passion, but they don't know what goes into that passion. And that's okay. I can talk to my husband all night about my characters and as hard as he might try (or not, fall asleep) he will likely never get it. He's just not wired like me.

    So I revel in what I've found online and what I'll experience at ACFW. I'm getting so pumped.
    ~ Wendy

  28. Robyn Campbell

    AA has that thing for spouses, maybe writing should too.

    I thought the words your husband chose were EXCELLENT. Your hubby actually smacked the nail on the head. *shakes Katie's hubby's hand*

    I never talk about it, but my hubby does. All the time. He's my greatest fan. And I've often wished he were a successful literary agent. *grin*

    But most do NOT get it. I'm sorry to say. My Christopher is the only one of my kids that really gets it. I always talk to him or the hubby. That's about it. I'm tired of the question, "When are you going to get published?" Heck! If I knew, I'd be rich, because I could predict the future. SHEESH!

    Great post and I love you Katie, my sweet friend. Huge hugs sent to you.

  29. Jody Hedlund

    What a great point, Katie. It's hard to take the risk to tell people about our writing, but if we step out of our comfort zones, we'll find those who do understand. I always hesitate to overload my real life friends on Facebook with writing news, so I don't post many comments about writing there. But one time when I did, a friend let me know about another woman at my church who had recently published a book. That led to a get together and now a supportive friendship.


    There are three people I share my writing with–my brother, my professor, and my best friend.

    You're lucky to have understanding people in your life πŸ™‚

    God has blessed you.

  31. Tabitha Bird

    I am the same as you. I share my writing with close friends and family. Some of them get it. other's don't. I tend to say less to others who ask. Though can I just say that some of the most supportive people of my writing are actually other boxers. And they are so NOT writers. The biggest, meanest looking and most tattooed dude down at my boxing club totally gets my writing angst. And I in turn get his struggles as a truck driver. Talk about frinedships across differing interests!


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