Do people know what you write?
It's a simple question, but maybe the answers are sometimes more complex than expected. I've been thinking about this for a bit, mostly on account of a couple of conversations with my friend Matt Rush. And I'll buy him a Vikings jersey if he minds me putting this here.
So the latter of those two conversations was a few days ago, when he mentioned that he didn't know much about my work in progress, and hadn't really felt like it was his place to ask, because I might be keeping the information close to the vest intentionally.
And the earlier conversation was a month or two ago, when Matt found out that I wrote (in terms of my WIP novel) epic fantasy.
Does that surprise? AT first I was surprised that he was surprised. And then I started thinking... about my blog and blog friends, first and foremost. What's on my blog? A lot of stuff about writing in general, as well as some of flash fiction -- which, as it happens, is all literary or literary magical realism.
So maybe other people would be surprised that I spend the bulk of my time writing epic fantasy? It's interesting to think about, as it involves trying to look at yourself through the eyes of someone else, wondering how you present yourself to the world.
I'm an eclectic reader, and somewhat of an eclectic writer, too. I write literary and fantasy, and a magical realist hybrid of the two (sometimes with other genres, like crime and mystery, leaching into those forms). But I think my goal has always been to be a fantasy novelist. My first love. And it was a love that implanted some sort of deep obsession. Novelist! Yes! Sign me up!
I also dabble in literary novels, but my professional goal focuses on becoming that weird and strange breed of madman, the fantasy novelist. Unless someone wants to offer me a huge advance for a literary novel. Just sayin'.
So here we have the fact that I spend endless hours flicking away at laptop keys, writing about sword fights and magic. And also there's the fact that apparently I don't seem to talk about it much. Which is odd considering I (and my buddies) have a blog about writing (and yes, they, at least, know what I write :).
Now, I usually don't talk about projects when I'm working on a first draft. This is true. I'm not sure if it's superstition or merely an idea of energy conservation -- I don't want to expend narrative energy anywhere except on the page. And, perhaps, I don't want opinions yet, either. I don't want other views trying to shape or influence either me or the work in progress. I simply have a vision I wish to follow, and I want a silent world in which to track that tricky monster through the snow.
But my WIP is long past the first draft stage. Heck, if someone gets me talking about it I might not shut up. So it's not that I don't like to talk about my writing.
But perhaps I see it as an imposition? Do any of you feel this? Like, if you start jabbering about the WIP you'll suddenly become that old guy at the bar mumbling on to everyone and no one about his one big thing thirty years ago and wasn't it so great? I suppose I don't want to push my story on anyone, if they're not interested. Maybe I know I won't shut up once started, so I'm merely saving myself from future social awkwardness and embarassment. For example...
Ink: "Should I buy that sequinned shirt that's supposed to be for men?"
The Oracle: CEASE AND DESIST! STOP! DO NOT PASS GO!
Am I the only one like this? Do the rest of you secretly yearn for sequins? Oops, I mean, do the rest of you talk about your works in progress? Do people know what you write? Do you have rules for discussing your writing?
And if people don't know what type of things you write... what would their guess be? And would they be surprised to learn the truth?