I admitted that I’m a writer today. To an author. Face-to-face.
It was more difficult than it should have been.
I know the lady—she’s a local historian who does her research in our library. Many of her books are in our library as research materials—I’ve cited her I don’t know how many times. She and I became close while she was writing her first historical fiction, a children’s book centering on the construction of the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi. In fact, she asked me to beta it,* which was a serious honor.
Somehow, I never told her that I wrote, too. I guess I didn’t want to look like the wannabe I am—or one of those people who goes up to authors and drawls, “You know, I thought about writing a book , too.”
The author came in today to gather some basic information for her next project, and since I haven’t seen her for a while, she stopped at the desk so we could catch up.
She asked after the kids and I bragged on them a little and asked how her family was, and so on. And then she said:
“So, I hear you’re writing a book. [A mutual friend]** told me.”
“Uh . . . Yes?”
“Great! What’s it about?”
“Uh . . . Crime fiction? Sort of?”
“Oh? What’s it about?”
“Uh . . . ”
I answered all her questions with questions, as if it was a pop quiz and I wasn’t quite sure of the answers.
Did I think she would secretly roll her eyes? Patronize me? Or turn on me with rabid scorn, this nice woman who probably doesn’t read in my genre, but who wouldn’t think less of me for writing in it.
What was the matter with me?
I’ve written so many posts about Pigeon that the majority of my five regular readers can recite the premise along with me, and at least two of you have read most of it. I’ve scattered the news all over the Internet—on the blogs of agents and editors for Pete’s sake:***
I’m writing a book.
I’m writing a book about (say it with me) a group of reformed ex-cons who are searching for the family of their boss and mentor, a former con-man himself, who needs a bone marrow transplant.^
I’m almost done with the first draft, I have this idea that it might not totally suck, and I might not stuff this one in a drawer after I type The End.
In fact, I hope to have it revised and polished by September, in time for a mystery convention during which I may practice pitching.^^
But I couldn’t seem to say any of this like I meant it, not to this woman, my friend, the author, who was standing three feet away. Looking at me.
She seemed puzzled at my doubt at first, but then smiled. “I knew you were a writer when I read your notes on my manuscript.” She patted my hand. “Keep going. I’m sure it will be terrific.”
“Uh . . .I will,” I said, finally relaxing. “I only have a little left on my first draft. I think . . . I think it might be good. You know, for a first draft.”
“Really?” she said, then leaned over the desk a little. “How can you tell when you’re getting near the end of your first draft? I have a terrible time finishing, even with an outline. I always want to know what comes next . . . ”
So we talked shop a little, she and I.
Writer to writer.
*It’s in the hands of her editor right now, so I’ll give more details when it’s cleared for takeoff.
**Who used to belong to my old writing group and is the only one I still see on a regular basis.
***Though not many authors, it’s true, unless they’ve blogstalked me back here (and isn’t that an awesome word?).
^Yes, I know. I’m working on it.
^^Although I’m still going if it it isn’t and I decide not to, because Bouchercon is supposed to be a blast.