I Want to be a Writer: Breaking the News to Your Family

When I first started writing The Claiming Words, I didn’t tell anyone about it. No one. It was such an impractical venture, I was embarrassed to admit that I’d suddenly decided to listen to the imaginary friends skipping around inside my head. Sure, after a few days, my husband began to wonder what the heck I was up to. Prior to beginning my novel, I barely touched the computer. He wondered why I’d suddenly become so attached to Microsoft Word.

“I’m writing a book. I know that sounds crazy. I probably won’t finish, so don’t tell anybody,” I told him.

“What’s it about?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t tell you.”

And so I wrote on. Two months later, the first draft was nearly complete. My kids knew what I was up to, but they were sworn to secrecy. I finally told my mother, but that was it. Friends and other family members were left in the dark. I’ll bet some of my distant relatives still don’t know I’ve written a book.

Why all the secrecy?

When I first began writing, I kept my mouth shut because I was afraid I wouldn’t finish the book and I didn’t want to explain to everyone why I gave up. After I finished writing it, I continued to keep my silence because I was afraid I might never be published.

Fear.

It was fear that kept me quiet. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being judged.

For some of us, our decision to become a writer might not surprise anyone. Mom might say, “She always followed me around, notebook in hand, even when she was just a little girl. I always knew she’d become a writer.”

But, for some of us (me), the decision to write a book comes from out of left field. I was thirty-nine when I began writing. I worked in accounting for crying out loud! I probably would have been voted “Least Likely to Write a Book.” Heck, even I was surprised by my decision!

When we do something that surprises everyone (even ourselves), we’re opening ourselves up to criticism, judgement, or even rejection. It’s fear that keeps us from telling the world, “Hey, I’m a writer!” And, it’s often fear that makes others react in a negative way.

“What do you know about writing a book?” 

“Do you know how hard it is to get a literary agent?” 

“I can’t understand why you spend so much time working on that book. If you don’t make any money, you’ll regret wasting all that time.” 

“Now that you’re writing, you never have time for _______(fill in the blank–cooking, cleaning, PTA, the kids, gardening, scouting, etc). 

You’ll find people in your life who are incredibly supportive. And, you’ll find a few people who aren’t. When you break the BIG NEWS to your friends and family–when you finally decide to tell them you’re writing a book–you’d better be prepared to deal with the naysayers.

When people you care about aren’t enthusiastic about your new venture, it hurts. It can chip away at your fragile self-confidence. It might even make you want to give up, but don’t! If you keep on writing, keep on pushing forward, you achieve something most people say they’d like to do, but never attempt–you will finish writing a book! There’s nothing sweeter than writing THE END on the final page of that first draft. Nothing sweeter than that feeling of accomplishment. Don’t deny yourself that wonderful feeling just because Cousin Crabby-Pants has a few doubts.

I promise you this–when your book is published (either traditionally or self-pubbed), Cousin Crabby-Pants will be the first to tell you how proud she is of your accomplishment. And if she isn’t? There will be plenty of people who will. But, most importantly, you’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll be able to bask in the glow of a job well-done. No one can take that away from you.

9 thoughts on “I Want to be a Writer: Breaking the News to Your Family

  1. I took the opposite approach when I started writing my book (thats almost done now! yay!). I told people. I told people out the wazoo. Not in a bragging, “oh, I’m so literary, I’m writing the great american novel’ kind of way, though. if they asked what I was up to, I’d tell them, but add the “I’m writing a book, too” at the end.

    Telling people meant they’re expecting something from me. They ask for updates, and how far along I am and stuff. Having someone expect something is motivation. I want to write a little more, so I can tell them about my Cajun werewolf (that was a fun writing adventure).

    There are a few people who seem curious, but that I suspect are saying “yeah, right” in their head the whole time, but those people motivate me too – maybe even more than the positive ones. I’m a little competitive (my brother-in-law and I are arch rivals when it comes to family game night), so being able to say “HA! LOOK! I DID IT! SUCK IT BETCH!” when my book is done is going to be almost as sweet as writing ‘the end’.

    Either way you look at it, there’s always a reason to write.

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    • Yes, there is definitely something to be said for accountability. If you tell people you’re writing, you darn well better finish. Now, that people know I’m a writer, they ask me what I’m working on, or if I’ve written anything else. I don’t want to have to tell people, “Nope, I mostly get sit around and look at kitten pictures on Facebook.” So, yeah, I feel like I have to crank out at least a book a year, if not more.

      I can’t wait to read about your Cajun werewolf. Congrats on being almost finished. I’ll keep stalking your blog so I can keep up with your writing adventures.

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      • Those kitties on facebook…. I know them well, lol. I’m so easily distracted its ridiculous! But I’m shooting for 4-6 books this year, so I cant really afford to procrastinate, as much as I try. >_<

        I can't wait to -write- more about my Cajun werewolf! It was one of those serendipitous (is that a word?) moments, where it kind of just wrote itself.

        Hooray for writing adventures!

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  2. It is so sad that family and friends are often so very unsupportive, even hostile. I try not to accidentally mention my writing to most of my family, as there will be a quick and embarrassing change of subject. I think I’d have more support if I confessed to a drug habit! Others are not so bad, just not interested. There was even some tepid ‘congratulations’ when I had the first one published.

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    • Marj, I think it has to do with people fearing what they don’t understand. Some of our friends and family may not understand why we’d want to write a book at all. Your books tackle some serious subject matter which might make some people uncomfortable .It’s a shame when those you love can’t support your dreams.

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  3. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I still face some of those issues – the ones about getting an agent and my lack of time for other things in particular. Worries about failure and rejection plague me, too, but sometimes you just have to strap on blinders and keep plodding along. At least, that’s the way I’ve been able to deal with it. That, and sticking my fingers in my ears and screaming, “I can’t hear you!” at the top of my lungs or doing my admittedly bad impression of the Vancome Lady from MADtv. 🙂

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  4. I was very similar Tricia – my husband wad the only one who knew, and otherin fact I only told my parents when I got my contract. Other than my sister and a close friend I didn’t tell anyone else until the day it was published….

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  5. Exactly! I do the same thing but with everything else and still do. There is something about the secrecy that allows for a certain feeling of security which produces freedom. However, I am learning to be more open!

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