We were at a wedding last night where I only knew a handful of people, so I ended up partaking in quite a bit of small talk: "What do you do?", "Where are you from?", "Oh that's interesting!", etc. Well, at one point me writing came up.
"What do you write?"
I answered, "Young adult literature."
Their automatic response was a head nod, and "Oh," followed by a blank stare. I think their line of questioning is over, but sure enough, the inevitable question follows, "Are you published?"
I hate this question because my current answer is, "No, but I'm trying." To those who don't write, this comes off as, "I'm a loser." They try to look interested in what you're saying but the truth is, they assume that writers write a book, send it to a publisher, and then become JK Rowling. I find myself explaining the process of finding and agent, who then helps you work the manuscript to perfection before sending it out to the next step (all of which I really don't know first hand, only what I read about). The listener looks dumbfounded and then changes the conversation.
I've been writing since I was a kid, and the conversation never changes when it comes to me at a computer. I've stopped sharing with my family because they all think it's a "cute hobby." My husband is my number one cheerleader, but he's an optimist, so he has a hard time when I'm having a bad day. I do love him for that, though. I don't share with my students because I don't like them to know I'm human all the time. They get bits and pieces of that. I actually find more encouragement and comfort in the strangers out there, like on QT. We're all in the same boat rowing for the same destination. There's a peaceful comfort knowing I'm not alone with them rowing beside me. I view my fellow writers as peers and draw so much strength from the simple things they say, like Raven1 on QT "sending up good vibes" when someone posts they've had a request for a full. These people are what writers need to keep going.
My daughter who is 8 loves to write, and I encourage her all the time, but deep down I feel like it's a curse. I love writing, and am a better person when I'm writing. When I haven't written in a while, my mood changes - grumpy. My husband has learned to recognize the signs, so he pushes me to the computer even when the juices aren't flowing. I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes through this, but I do feel like it's a curse at times. A blessing and a curse all at the same time. The blessing is that one day people will read what I write and hopefully love it. The curse is the need to write to stay sane by hammering away at the keyboard, obsessing over the QT boards, watching my email willing it to ding, dreaming about future stories and waking without clear memory of why it was so good, and the characters I fall in love with and hate all the same. Writing is a blessed curse that brings the hated questions from those who don't understand and the patronizing from those who think it's a "cute" hobby or past time. Ultimately, it is what it is and I love it.