Friday, October 3, 2014

Top Ten Delights of Obscurity

When I wrote the first chapter of my first novel, I'm not quite sure I intended to finish the book. Writing was an experiment. A means to play. So I wrote for the joy of words and stories. I was virginal, really.

I ended up experiencing enough publishing success (by the world's standards) that my friends and those who thought they knew me, started looking at me differently, started referring to me as the author, like I'd somehow metamorphosed into a new creature. Something rare and weird. (This could be true.)

I cannot tell a lie. It was fun, at first. My life opened up. I met people I never would have met and was asked to do things I was unqualified to do, but I did them anyway. I also traveled more.

I liked the attention.

Once I understood how skewed people's views of me had become, I wished I'd written under a pseudonym. Brenda Paris or Elizabeth Moon were top contenders.

But I didn't. And now that my notoriety is waning, I'm relieved to be incognito while using my very own name.

Here are ten reasons I'm enjoying my new obscurity:

  1. Amateur writing groups don't ask me to judge writing contests.
  2. I'm just me, no descriptor necessary.
  3. People don't assume I'm rich.
  4. I'm not asked if Jodi Picoult and I are BFFs.
  5. Fewer people suggest that I write their biographies.
  6. I'm not in a position to introduce anyone to an agent or an editor. 
  7. Hands don't fly to mouths when their verbs and nouns don't agree. 
  8. I have the time to use my accumulated set of writing skills to serve my church.
  9. I'm not asked if readers can download my books on RapidShare for free. (Scream!)
  10. I write daily for the love of words and story. (Yay!)
I'm also learning that I'm enough. We're so used to being paid in some way--admiration, affirmation, cash--for what we do. What I'm content to say is that...


Anonymous said...

Love this, Unity Sisters (what I'm going to call you now that I'm not sure who is writing). And I will say that #6 is a tricky one, isn't it?

You're right on about how relationships change. I haven't left Obscure City, but still I've experienced that. It is very strange how having your name on a book changes so many things. The relationship struggles are probably the worst part of the job.

Patti Hill said...

Thanks for commenting, Anonymous. And yes, we are the Unity Sisters. Thanks for the handle.

#6 is very tricky when you do have an agent or publisher because newbie writers feel snubbed or, worse, insulted that you won't introduce them to your agent. I would tell people that I had absolutely no influence over my agent (very true), so it would be better if they approached her on their own.

I attended a fundraiser event for a local ministry the other night. There were over 500 people there. I was introduced by friends to other attendees as the author. I said, "I'm so happy to meet you. I also have to pick up dog poo. I'm sure what you do is much more glamorous. Tell me about yourself." I'm not too delicate. There has to be a better way. All suggestions grateful welcomed.

Sharon K. Souza said...

I love it, Patti. And I love you.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Good grief. People think I'm suddenly rolling in it. Number 3 made me laugh. If they only knew.

This is a great post. Thanks for taking the pressure off.

Patti Hill said...

Sharon and Susie...mwah!

The Kat said...

I love to write and have started my first novel. It is great to have a group of friends in my critique group who are honest and keep me re-writing and learning the craft.I suspect I'll never be famous or possibly never published. Writing has opened the door to finding words that will exalt the Lord and bring me satisfaction that I am His pen to write His story.

Adelaide said...

Writing gives me pleasure; it satisfies some deep need to express myself even if I am the only one who hears me. My published stories have not given me notoriaty; I'm still an obscure writer of stories.
I am, however, noticed for my haiku and other short-form Japanese poetry. In the last few years I've been asked to judge contests which I have willingly done, not to gain notice, but as a way of saying thank you to all the helpful editors and people in the haiku community who have shared with me their knowledge and experience. I feel that judging a contest is not only an honor but a way of learning how to critique other poets' work. Yes, it takes time, but as long as I can still managae to be a contest judge and still have time for my own writing I don't mind the extra work required.

Thank you for allowing me to post
my thoughts.

Adelaide B. Shaw

Patti Hill said...

Kat, I'm so happy you've found a great writing group. Writing can be very isolating, so having folks who take your writing and your mission to heart is a priceless gift.

Adelaide, I'm jaded about writing contests, probably because of my background as a teacher. Too much red pencil marks for my taste.