Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming Out

by Libby Malin
www.LibbysBooks.com

In my book Fire Me, Anne Wyatt tries to figure out how to earn a living "doing what she loves," first pursuing a crazy strategy to get herself laid off so she can collect severance pay, all the while struggling with how to merge her artistic background with making money.

In my next book, My Own Personal Soap Opera, soap opera head writer Frankie McNally has to come to terms with "loving what she does," that is, writing passionate and sometimes outlandish stories that enthrall millions but don't impress the literati crowd she'd hoped to join when she went to college.

Both books share the common thread of young women finding their way in the world, settling into careers -- after they first figure out what career is right for them.

Who hasn't been there? Or rather, what writer hasn't been there?

Writers, I believe, struggle with both the questions that face my protagonists -- how do I earn money doing what I love, how do I love what I have to do to earn money?

Most writers have "day jobs" -- for me, it's freelance writing and editing. I feel blessed to be able to earn income this way. But if I could design a bumper sticker for my car, it would read: I'd rather be....writing fiction. My guess is most fiction writers feel the same way.

Along with a writing career's practical challenges are emotional or psychological ones, too. Just letting people know you are pursuing fiction writing can be hard. Will they look at you like you're crazy, full of yourself, temporarily deluded, surely to come back to your senses once you realize you're not in other writers' league?

Because they're afraid of the answer to that question, a lot of writers don't share their aspirations with friends and family right away.

In fact, I think that getting past this hurdle -- being willing to admit you aspire to be a writer, that you are a writer -- is a big first step toward realizing your dreams as a writer.

For many years, I was in the closet as a writer, penning short stories and even a novel without telling many folks at all that this is what I really wanted to do. It was a hobby, an amusement, something I did in my spare time the way other people might knit or golf or build birdhouses. :-)

Close family members knew I wanted to write, and it was my sister who kept telling me to write romance. After years of her gentle persuasion, I finally took her advice. I decided to try to get a romance published. I thought it would be easy. LOL!

It took me several manuscripts and more time than I'd imagined, but I did get a first novel published, a young adult mystery with a small press, and I was on my way. Still, it took me several published books before I'd answer the question: "what do you do?" with, "I'm a novelist."

When did you start telling friends and family you wanted to write? When did you start telling people you were a novelist?

7 comments:

  1. god bless your sister. what so many would have missed if she hadn't.

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  2. Hey Libby!

    My family always knew I wrote. I've had various odds and ends published over the years. The only one that really knew I was writing novels was my oldest sister and a few friends. They were and are, very supportative. :-)

    When I became serious about it I mentioned it to a few in my family. Of course, my family has an information stream that would put Government agencies to shame, so what one knew the rest knew within a day, probably less. lol! I didn't care if they knew but I wasn't comfortable with everyone reading it. I exercised the wonderful privilege of NO. lol!

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  3. Hi Libby~

    My husband always knew I wrote, I'm not sure when my parents and the rest of the family found out.

    I do remember my mother asking me to send her something I was writing and I said no. When she asked why, I told her because there were sex scenes it it. She laughed and said "As if I haven't read a sex scene!" Just not one her daughter wrote!

    It wigged me out but she's read all my books and is my biggest book seller. She goes around with boxes of them in her trunk and sells them to everyone she knows. Could you imagine what a nightmare stage mom she would have been?

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  4. Robin, that's so sweet about your mom. I have a few family cheerleaders like that, too.

    Sia, that's funny about your family's grapevine.

    As to my own sister's encouragement...yes, I'm very grateful she pushed and nudged.

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  5. Friends and family always knew I wanted to write - hard to hide it when I was nine years old with papers spread all over the dining room table. Most of them still think I'm mad but my Mum still wants me to be make it.

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  6. Hi Libby,

    Like you, I was a closet writer for a long time. But once I started selling I came out of the closet and now I love telling people that I write historical romance!

    Amelia

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  7. Family knew I wanted to write the second I started writing my own stories as soon as I picked up a crayon.

    Novelist didn't come about until sold my first two books.

    Linda

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