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Monday, October 22, 2007

YOU wrote a book?

My first book had been out about six months and now it was Christmas--i.e. Christmas parties. We were having dinner at Black Angus in Salt Lake with my husband's business partners--i.e. no kids! I was looking forward to it. A good meal, no noses to wipe. I'm there.

I was still coming to terms with the fact that I was indeed, a writer. I was excited to have a published book out, don't get me wrong, but I didn't know how to present myself. I didn't want to downplay it, but neither did I want to come across as arrogant and full of myself. In the six months since my book had come out, my life hadn't really changed at all and I'd gotten mixed feedback. While some people were excited about it and congratulatory, other's seemed almost annoyed by it--I'm not sure why exactly, but there were several people--friends and family--that didn't want to hear anything about my book. It was a limbo time as I was trying to decide what it meant that was a published author.

So we're at dinner and there is a woman there that I'd never met before, the wife of one of my husband's business partners. I can't remember her name (well, I can, but I'm not gunna say it) so for the sake of the story lets just call her Jezebel--or Jezzy for short.

I ask about her kids, Jezzy asks about mine. I ask about where they live, she asks where we're at. We make small talk around the table as we wait for our meal and then my husband throws in "Josi had her first book published a few months ago."

Jezzy turns to me and leans across the table. "You wrote a book?" this is said in the tone of "You're a nuclear scientist that will save the world from utter destruction? I don't believe it."

I smile, embarrassed and kind of ducked my head. "Yeah, I did."

"You?" Jezzy said incredulously (I love this word, incredulously, but I wasn't a big fan of the tone that night). "You wrote a book?"

"Yes."

"A children's book?" she asks, as if any half baked chicken hawk can sit down and write a children's book. Having known a few children's authors in my time I can say without argument that the process is grueling. But people assume that children's books are easy to write and therefore she seemed to only believe I was capable of something simple.

"No, a novel. For adults."

This completely confused her. "Not a children's book?"

"Nope."

"Did you write it yourself?"

I try to laugh at this, but my eyes are shifting around the table, a blatant "help me" lurking in their depths. Keep in mind this woman has known me for exactly one appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. I'm wondering what it is about me that makes her think I am a) incapable of writing a novel or b) someone that would lie about it. "Yeah, I wrote it myself."

Someone breaks in and tries to save me, but Jezzy cuts them off and leans across the table. "A novel?"

"Yes," I say for the sixth time. "I wrote a novel."

"And it's published?"

"Yes," I'm getting annoyed now, but my dinner hasn't even come yet and I don't want to make a scene. "I wrote an adult novel all by myself and it's published."

At this point my husband proceeds to tell her how much some of our friends had liked it, how he'd finally read it when my friend's husbands said how great it was. She's still glancing at me over her drink, as if still trying to compute it and wondering if she's on candid camera.

"And you wrote it by yourself?" she repeated after Lee's attempts to redeem us all. About this time our dinner arrived and no one let her talk about this anymore--thank heavens.

*Case in point. When you achieve your dreams, not everyone is happy about it. In fact, some people are just plain ticked off. If you have passion and you're working toward a goal, prepare yourself for the backlash. I don't think I'm 'in your face' about my writing, in fact I rarely it up on my own, only talking about it when other people ask. I expected something different.

Of my family, including siblings, parents, cousins, in laws etc, less than half have read any of my books--I'm aware of only three that have read them all. None of them read my blog--ever. In fact, if a family member is reading this I will pay you $100. (No worries, my money is very safe, I assure you) Very few people I know outside of writing circles ask me what I'm working on, when my next book is coming out or how things are going. I have no doubt that there are some people that are hoping my career will come to an end one way or another.

Sad huh? But true as well. However, I also have wonderful cheerleaders--some family, friends, other writers, fans--that cheer me on and lift me up. There are days when they are my saving grace. As you work toward your own passions, your own dreams, hold on to the cheerleaders tightly, and be that person for someone else when they realize something BIG in their life. It's a priceless gift.

21 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Been there, Josi. I've had people ask me if I've written children's books too.

Heather B. Moore said...

To clarify. There's nothing wrong with children's books, but people don't think I have much to say--so they are surprised I could write novel-length book. I've even had someone say, "You published with a real publisher?" Uh, yes.

Josi said...

Exactly--they assume since children's books are short that they are simple to write--hence my simplmindedness would better lend itself to that kind of book.

Anne Bradshaw said...

This has been my experience also, Josi. Now, I tell as few people as possible that I write, for fear of being looked down upon. Much easier to market work on the Internet where I'm not face to face with disinterest. :-)

Ajoy said...

Oh my heck! I wanna poke Jezzy's eyes OUT and as she falls to the ground...kick her behind! Oh Josi, I can't believe not everybody loves and adores you and your work! :O I guess, I'm in shock.

Me being a non-published novelist {at this point} I was not expecting to read your blog and others comment on like situations about their careers. {I'm still in shock} Especially from family members and close friends.

I'm here! I am another CHEERLEADER for Miss Josi!!!

As perterbed as I am at what happened to you and how you were treated- in a way I am grateful that you shared this so that I can be aware. All I can do is shake my head and say *#@*(*!

Ajoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcia Mickelson said...

Great blog! This is so true. My husband can't believe it sometimes and says I can't believe so-and-so hasn't read your book. I was sort of prepared for it, though. A great chapter in one of the LDS Storymakers books talked about this and I always remember it. So, it was good to be prepared for it. What a great blog to let others know what they might expect.

newnorth said...

SHE made it to the party all by herself? SHE figured out how to put sounds together to make words? ...(and by she I mean Jezzy)

Good post, don't let others jealousy bring you down.

Barbara said...

The Jezzy didn't know you aparently. I have seen you present to a class of teenagers, organize over 2000 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in your garage, run a troop of Girl Scouts and write a real novel more than once. You need to change the Superman Crest to a J instead of crest.
I am sorry for that woman's unfeeling or lack of understanding of your talents. Please keep writing! But that request is like asking you to keep breathing. You have an amazing talent with words and --------------When is your next NOVEL coming out?

A. Riley said...

Wow. I've wanted to write books since I was little (10 years old). My dad took it as a childish idea... in the sense that little kids want to be firefighters and nurses, but how many really stick to it?

Now that I'm older and still interested in it, he has realized that I'm serious and has occasionally asked me if I've written anything lately.

I can imagine that there will probably be some people who will act like Jezzy when I finally get to that point, but I can't imagine who. I guess time will tell.

My closest friends know that I love to write and I've shown them part of my novel. They are all excited for me, so I just hope I have more people happy for me than surprised.

Good to know this though, so I'm not as surprised if/when it happens.

Jenna said...

I wanna beat her up. She probably rains on everyone's parade because she's too afraid to start her own. I think you're terrific, and I plan to read everything you've ever written!

Allyson Condie said...

Josi, I love your blog and have been lurking for a bit...but I have to respond and tell you that I just loved this post. I have had similar experiences with family/friends and just wasn't expecting it at all. I really appreciated what you had to say on the subject...and it was nice to know that I'm not the only writer this has happened to.

You were very nice to Jezzy, by the way.

Kasie @ ~The Art of Life~ said...

Wow! Really, the nerve of some people! I think people like that just don't want to hear about others accomplishing their dreams and goals because it makes them feel bad about not pursuing their own dreams.

By the way, your blog is such an inspiration to me! Thanks for sharing your journey.
:)

Tamra Norton said...

It's a crazy thing to even try to understand. I appreciate you bring this up in your blog. A lot of people--most, I'd say--are very supportive. But then there's that one person (or two) who for whatever reason feel the need to make your achievement feel "less" somehow. It can realy hurt--especially when it's someone close to you. That's one reason why I really appreciate my other writer friends. Simply stated, they understand!

Karlene said...

Oh the joys of success, right? I had a similar experience, but on a much smaller scale. I wrote articles for a recovery newsletter where you didn't have a byline, just your initials.

I was sharing some ideas I'd written about at a meeting and a woman said to me afterward, "Oh, that reminds me of that article... you must have read it too." When I told her I had written it, her jaw dropped. "You mean you're KB?"

Apparently "KB" was one of her favorite contributors to the newsletters. After literally staring at me for at least a minute with her mouth hanging open, she finally said, "Oh, I never imagined that was you. I didn't think you were that deep."

so grateful to be Mormon! said...

josi:
how rude!! i am shocked. so sorry you have to put up with garbage like this.

i am your cheerleader, any day! i am proud and happy for you for your accomplishments. those who aren't, i guess are jealous or scared to go for their own goals and have to put others down to make themselves feel better. i think you are awesome awesome awesome. thanks for writing about this experience. newnorth cracked me up how they wrote what jezzy was able to do all by herself.

and you really cracked me up, too, how you named the no name girl jessabel! hilarious josi. great word choice. mean people rot :(

Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm like family and I'm reading this -- any chance the money goes to me??? :)

It is really amusing when people can't fathom that we write. I've gotten it enough times that it makes me wonder, what is this person's opinion of me that the idea I can write a published book blew them out of the water? Do they think I'm totally dumb or something?

Annette Lyon said...

The length of this comment trail shows just how much we can all relate to this. Me, too, of course. I've had friends tell me with shock in their voices that my books are, like, as good as "real" ones. After helping a friend with an edit job, she declared that I was as good as the professional ones she had hired. (Um, I am professional, I just did this as a favor and didn't charge you . . .)

And then there was the family member who, when I was on the phone telling her about my first book getting accepted--something she knew I had been after since we were kids, she interrupted to squeal about her latest success in the multi-level marketing company she had just entered.

Okay then. Glad you were trying to reach THAT goal since you were in grade school like I was . . .

You shrug it off and laugh--because then you eventually find some people who appreciate what you do and aren't stunned that you're capable of it.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Wait a minute....you wrote this blog post? All by yourself? And you got it published with the help of the publish button, too? Oooooohhhhh.

It boils down to jealousy. Plain and simple. Yeah, I think I want to write a book but I don't have the attention span to dedicate to anything other than writing blog posts. So I admire women like you and my friend Tami Norton.

Meisha said...

Bahahahaha, I was actually talking about this sort of thing with a friend the other day. I avoid showing any of my artwork to people I don't know very well, because of this annoying yet, common response I get: "Did you trace it?" Or in other words: Did you do that all by yourself?
The other response I hate is when someone replies with something like: "Oh, I could NEVER do something like that" and then they stop there.
How are you supposed to respond without sounding either rude and conceited, or replying with "Oh sure you could do it!"
"Was it a children's book?" Ha! Go tell Jezzy to try and write one!
Great post!

Maw Books said...

Well, I'm not a writer, so I can't relate there. But I did relate when you said no family members read your blog. Mine, too. Only my sister because she's a blogger too. When I first got started blogging (which was only two months ago) I had to BEG my parents to come visit and write a comment to get the ball rolling. I can tell from google analytics that no one else in my family reads my blog. Oh, well. What are you going to do?