Monday, May 3

Dinner Party Conversation (Or Lack Thereof)

My life has been a series of outside-the-box careers. Singer, wedding consultant, organizer, and now I work at a college. As you can imagine, I was never at a loss for entertaining stories at dinner parties. There was the time an actress forgot her entrance, and I had to improvise five minutes of stage time while keeping another actor from melting down in sheer panic. The wedding where the bride's bustle tore, and I had to sew it on her with fishing line, and then later the same bride demanded I apply her lipstick for her at the dinner table (I'm betting she's divorced by now). And the organizing client who would dictate thank you notes to me because she couldn't be bothered to hand write them (or even sign them). Or the twenty foot tall clown in the plaza at my school who would laugh maniacally when you walked by. All these stories and more were guaranteed to get a laugh.

But this weekend drove home to me just how solitary an occupation writing can be. Friday night we dined with another couple, and Saturday we went to a huge party. Two completely different venues and conversation styles, and yet I couldn't really discuss my writing at either one. Don't get me wrong - I desperately wanted to. Writing is my passion, and as I'm closing in on the final third of my manuscript, it is almost all I think about day and night. I have plenty to say in my writing groups online; sharing the ups and downs of the plot, the writing process, my painful-yet-continual promotion for my published book, and excitement about the upcoming national convention I'll attend. Sharing those details with non-writers, however, doesn't really work.
Sure, I got the standard question 'how's your book selling'. That is good for maybe a sentence. Can't go into detail though, because none of my friends know about the complicated vagaries of epublishing vs print. The truly polite will ask me what I'm writing now, but after I give the standard blurb, we're done. Nobody wants to hear if I hit my word count (or why I didn't). They don't care if I'm stuck on a particular plot point. Or how I had to dump a new crit partner after just a few weeks. And I certainly can't share with them about my most recent rejection, because they'll assume I'm a failure, as if I blew a job interview.
It feels as if I'm keeping a lid on one of the biggest pieces of my life. And it is very, very hard. How do all of you deal with this issue?


  1. I just don't talk..LOL...just kidding. I always enjoy when people ask so what do you write? and you proceed to answer and you watch their eyes glaze over. Seriously, don't ask if you're not intersted. Oh, and the follow up..are you published? And once you say, no, they lose all interest.

  2. I just talk. It's a weakness. Long silence? I'll fill it up, sometimes with something witty and sometimes...not so much. And, I'm of the opinion that if someone asks about what I write, my progress, etc. they really want to know. I don't go on for an hour, but I'll fill 'em in.

    You're right, though, writing is very solitary. I rarely bring up my fiction (or non-fiction) writing unless someone asks because I hate the glazed over looks...

  3. I don't talk about it. Really. With hardly anyone except my online peeps.