Thursday, December 1, 2011

Contest: Dodging Writing Questions

Holidays aren’t easy for writers. With the kids out of school, quiet time happens only during the wee hours when everyone else is ordering gift cards online or wrapping presents. And then there’s that awkward moment when we’re questioned by our REAR (Regularly Employed Anonymous Relatives). See if this sounds familiar:  

REAR: How’s your writing coming?
Me: Fine. *looks for a deviled egg and a good hiding place*
REAR: Have you finished that book you were working on?
Me: Well, the first two drafts. My critique group has it now.
REAR: You could have just sent it to me. I read Twilight last year.
Me: Uh, thanks?
REAR: So as soon as they’ve read it you’ll send it off to all the major publishing houses, right?
Me: I’m sure I’ll have more revisions to do. Then I’ll send it to some Beta readers. Then I’ll revise some more.
REAR: Huh. My neighbor has a friend whose aunt wrote her dog’s memoir. She sold copies at our class reunion. I bet I could get her to give you some pointers. She finished her book in three weeks and published it all by herself a month later.
Me: The tea is sweet, right? *hurries off & volunteers to sit at the kids’ table*

If it felt familiar, just know you are not alone. Preparing your book for publication is a long process. I’m still not sure why we’re called writers instead of revisers. So for a little fun, tell us your best topic-dodging line when you’ve given up on getting your REAR to understand and just want to change the subject. On Monday, December 5th, I’ll let my littlest pick a commenter out of a hat to win a package of Eraselets (cute little bracelets that you can also use as erasers).  U.S. entries only please. J


  1. Disclaimer: The REAR in this post is fictional. Any resemblance between this REAR and any of my relatives is purely coincidental. bwahahahaha!

  2. Dudette! I am asked how my writing is coming along many times a month. Sometimes I say "fine", but other times, I just say it like it is. "Life got in the way. It is on the backburner right now."

    It is not a satisfactory answer, I know. But it's the truth. I'm usually the one yapping about how to get published and such, so folks are ready to quit talking about it all together! :)

  3. Soooo... how about that presidential election? Hee Hee.

    But seriously. I've definitely had that same conversation during several Christmases, Laura. Great post!

  4. Lol! I love the disclaimer, it's ok you say say who it was haha! Your bro is always a big rear... (does this comment still qualify me for the eraselets because that could make work a lot more fun? :). -SL

  5. Laura, I've been trying to comment here for over an hour & can't seem to get it done. I guess I'll have to try an anonymous post. Anyway. . .

    I think this gets a little easier once you've been published. The advice & comments usually stop once I tell them my 1st book came out in '09 & my next one comes out in the spring.

    The question that really drives me nuts is actually this one: "I wrote a book, can you help me get it published?"

    People just don't get it. I've been honing my craft for 12 yrs. I've done my time & finding a publisher is still not an easy task. Yet how do I even begin to explain my writer's journey to someone not in the biz? I guess at this point my best advice is for them to contact Publish American and have their checkbook handy.

    -Anonymous Niki

  6. Laura,

    This is one of the most relevant and home-hitting posts I've read about being a writer! It's only been a year since I dropped the bomb on my family that I am working to become a children's author, so this year I fear they'll be expecting "results."

    I haven't come up with that perfect response. I suppose I could reference Dr. Seuss and all his rejections, but I think I'll just play it safe and hide amongst my nephews, who, instead of badgering me about my career, might just inspire it.

    Thanks for the post, and best of luck with your REAR!


  7. Believe it or not this one has worked for me plenty of times, "I'm having my story professionally critiqued at an upcoming conference." They like it because it sounds credible.

  8. Donna-- I like the way you think. :)

    Janelle-- Thanks. And good one! Turn it into a topic that will be just as awkward for them. Ha!

    Sarah-- As a little sister, I have no problem calling my brother a rear, but he's innocent on this one. And any comment enters you, so good luck. :)

    Niki-- Sorry for the techno drama. I don't know why it was being obstinate. Glad to hear it gets better post publication!

    You can find Anonymous Niki Schoenfeldt at .

    Laura-- Thanks! Hang tough and know you're not alone. You could always throw in a "I don't want to talk about it yet, because it might jinx things." :)

    Maria-- I like it, and professional critiques at conferences are a great opportunity!

  9. Laura,
    Mostly I get people who give blank stares if I say I have some upcoming articles in children's magazines but no books yet. When I get an opportunity to share a copy of something published, they give me "That's nice," but without much enthusiasm. I get the feeling that they think I'm crazy to spend my time with something they consider so trivial. One person I know tells me she admires me for following my dream. There's one who gets it every once in a while!

  10. Linda-- I guess in some people's eyes we do seem like a bunch of crazy cat ladies for chasing our dreams, but good for you for persevering. Dance among those that encourage you through SCBWI, Google+, Twitter, & critique groups. We are the lucky ones who get to do what we love to do. :)

  11. I want some eraserlets... I've never heard of them! But I ususally dodge this type of conversation by giving them a whole bunch of links to read about the writing process so they'll understand better... then we can discuss! That's usually enough! And I say it politely and helpfully, so no harm done.

  12. Did I win? Huh? Huh? Did I? *jumping around house, hoping I did!*

  13. And the winner of the Eraselets is (drumroll please) Linda A! Linda-- email me at renegarl (at) yahoo (dot) com, and soon you'll have Eraselets of your own!

    Thanks, everyone, for the great comments. And Kami, maybe I'll write some links about the writing process on the back of my card to hand out as needed. ;)

  14. Congratulations, LINDA! YAYAYAY!!! (now take some pics of you and the Eraselets and let us see!

  15. Thanks so much Laura! Lucky me! Just in time for Christmas.

  16. Laura,
    I got the eraselets in the mail yesterday. I selected two sports packs--one for each grandson. Thanks again and Merry Christmas!