Out of the Closet and Back in the Saddle

23 May

So, last I blathered on at you I was getting ready for a trip to Chicago to see a bunch of old friends at my ten-year law school reunion. It was fun, it was exhausting, it was so incredibly different from my current life. I drank a French 75 at a rooftop bar and helped a friend herd her toddlers through a children’s museum. I remembered how insanely frustrating it is to sit in a taxi trying to turn off Michigan Ave as hordes of pedestrians ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. I sat in the audience for a wide-ranging debate between two of the more well-known of my former professors. (The most well known was apparently too busy being President of the United States to show up. Priorities!) And, strangest and scariest of all, I told person after person that I’m writing a romance novel. I told friends. I told acquaintances. I told my Civ Pro professor! (Pretty sure the open bar encouraged that particular revelation.)

If you’ve been to a reunion you know what it’s like. A few people you’re currently close to, more people you used to be close to, and a whole heck of a lot of people you were never close to to begin with, all asking what you’re up to these days. I didn’t make a conscious decision to blab on and on about writing, but people seemed interested, and well, that’s what I’m up to these days. People were incredibly encouraging and wonderful and while it was scary, saying it over and over again – “I’m writing a book” – it was motivating. There is no way I can see these people again in five years and *still* not have finished a damn book. So, you know, I guess I have to finish the damn book.

I’ve always been the kind of person to hold my ambitions close. I don’t tell people my goals because that way nobody but me will know that I’ve failed when I don’t achieve them. But this whole writing gig … I tell everyone, hoping that the fear of public failure will keep me moving forward. I’ve had a few people say dismissive things about my genre, but not many. I’ve had more offers of help and more encouraging words than I can count. It’s really been wonderful.

For those of you who are unpublished, do you tell people you’re writing a book when they ask what you’re up to? For those of you who are published, did you hold that ambition tight until you’d reached a certain level of accomplishment? Is everyone braver than I am and just don’t think it’s a big deal to tell one’s old Civ Pro professor that one’s writing a romance novel? 


10 responses to “Out of the Closet and Back in the Saddle

  1. Phyllis Ring

    May 23, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    I think it’s an incredibly courageous — and wise — thing to do. Both for the personal reinforcement, and the awareness it creates. Yay you! Good to read this today.

  2. Janis McCurry

    May 23, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    First, eliminate that “failure” thing. Make it a “yet.” Most of my co-workers know, but their measuring stick is if I sell it, so they don’t really ask about if I’ve finished one or not. It’s not the first thing out of my mouth when meeting someone for the first time, but I can’t say I’d care if they knew or not.

    A turning point for me was several years ago in a work teambuilding exercise when we were asked to look through our wallets and pick out something important to us. At the time, I happened to be carrying an RWA membership card (in the “old” days, they were issued to members) and I took it out and explained why it was important to me. That was hard to do, but it opened the floodgates and now I don’t have any problem at all telling peeps if the subject arises.

    Now that you’ve done it at your reunion, you’ll find you’re proud to say you’re a romance writer!

  3. Judith Keim

    May 23, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    I’m now very open about my writing because I make plans around my writing schedule. When people ask if they can buy my books, I’m forced to admit that I’ve had short stories published but I’m still (after all these years!) trying to get a “real book” published. Because I’m concentrating on Middle Grade novels I avoid the romance attachment, but I’m always proud to say I’m a member of RWA and how wonderful and professional a group it is. Corina, I think it’s wonderful that you’ve put yourself out there. I’m certain you will do well; you have a nice way with stories. Good luck!

    • marsharwest

      May 23, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      Judith, have you sent to MuseItUp Publishing? Small Canadian e-press. We have lots of YA and middle grade writers.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    May 23, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    I tell people I’m a writer. Then comes the inevitable question…”Have you written anything I might have read?” I love this question. I have to bite my lip so I won’t say, “How in the world would I know what you’ve read?”
    Then my not so evil side smiles and tells them I’m not published yet.
    I remember my reunion. So interesting what people do with their lives. With luck, at your next reunion you can have a book signing.

  5. Jennifer

    May 23, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    It took me awhile to admit to anyone else that I was writing. I’ve slowly begun telling more people. There is something scary about putting it out into the universe. I guess, like you said, it makes you feel more accountable. Years ago my dad had a couple of short stories published in a Science Fiction magazine so we bond over the topic of writing.

  6. marsharwest

    May 23, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Corinna, congratulations! I remember your earlier post and you weren’t even sure you’d go to the reunion. So good on you, girl. You were afraid to tell people there what you were now doing with your awesome degree. Look how that turned out. How supportive you found most people. And, oh, girl, I’m envious of all the contacts you have for research!! You could probably write the pres. and say, hey, we missed you at the reunion and what about . . . ? Well, I am a romance writer after all with quite an immagination, so maybe you couldn’t do that, but . . . . LOL

    I was always hesitant to tell people what I was doing. I’d retired from being an elementary school principal with a fairly high profile in the district because of having served 8 years on the school board. I think it was the first RWA convention I attended, right after retirement before I’d joined a local chapter even and I went knowing nothing and no one. Only that I had a partially written romance on my computer. I heard a speaker talk about why she writes romance. Her town had been hit by floods and her family and her mom’s family ended up staying at a small motel. She and her mom went to Wallmart to pick up toothpaste, brushes, and other essentials like panties. Before the left the store they’d each picked up a romance. She said they desperately needed some happily ever after. After I wiped my tears, I decided on the surface, being a romance writer might not appear to some to be much. But to others, we bring a flicker of hope during whatever dark days they’re experiencing. I’m good with that.

    As long as you don’t give up, you can be published. My first comes out in July, and I can’t imagine how excited I’ll be then, because I’m pretty excited right now. 🙂 Write on, everyone.

  7. maryvine

    May 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I think that after you become an attorney you can say anything you want. That is a major accomplishment and I think your self-esteem should be strong just from that. You tell everyone dear, but you will find that some people don’t care and others will be like, “You’ve walked on the, moon!”
    Now me – I was afraid to tell anyone I was writing for several years. So, we’re a little bit opposite that way.
    Why don’t you email me your first 25 pages, so I can have a look?

  8. stephanieberget

    May 24, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Good for you, Corina. I didn’t tell anyone but my husband for several years. When I found RWA it was a treat, but I still didn’t have enough courage to tell family or friends. When you finally do, it’s like opening floodgates. You’ll tell anyone who’ll listen.
    And Mary, I’ve read the first couple of chapters and they’re great.

  9. Lynn Mapp

    May 26, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    I tell people that I write in my spare time. The problem is, I don’t have that much spare time. At first, I kept my writing to myself. I was afraid to put it out to the world. I’m much bolder these days.


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