Yesterday, I got my hair trimmed.
I went to the same hairdresser who gave me the purple stripe ten weeks ago to commemorate my three-book deal.
She’s trimmed my hair every ten weeks for the last decade, which means we have one of those relationships that falls somewhere between “friend” and “I’m embarrassed to admit I still don’t remember your husband’s name.”
After the preliminary chit-chat about my hair, we settled in for the usual questioning that occurs between two people who see each other five times a year.
“So where can I buy your books now?” she asked, scissors neatly snipping my split-ends.
“Well, you’ll be able to buy them anywhere,” I replied. “Barnes & Noble, or probably most of the indy bookstores in town, but not until August 2011.”
She frowned at me in the mirror. “But you got a book deal, right?”
“And I can’t get the books until this summer?”
“Er, next summer, actually,” I admitted, keeping one eye on the scissors poised dangerously above my left ear. “August 2011. It’s a pretty slow process.”
As she continued to snip, I explained once more how everything in publishing moves at the speed of a slug on Valium.
The thing is, she knows this. She’s watched me struggle for eight years, so she’s aware that the path between “I wrote a book!” and “I have a book deal!” can be a long and treacherous one.
But I don’t blame her a bit for not remembering the details or for not being an expert on publishing. Hell, sometimes I wish I could forget.
And sometimes, I wish I’d never told her I’m a writer. Not until the day I was able to walk in and announce, “I have a book deal, I must have a purple stripe!”
I know I’ve said we’re ALL real authors – everyone who’s ever attempted to craft a book. And while I believe that with every fiber of my being, deciding whether to tell anyone is another matter.
Do you tell your close friends and family? I think so – you’re going to need their support.
But what about the casual acquaintances you see a few times a year? Your mechanic? Your babysitter? Your hairdresser?
I don’t know about you, but I spend a long time in that chair every ten weeks, and discussing how to get cat puke out of carpet can only carry the conversation so far.
Writing is such an all-consuming process that it’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to tell everyone who asks what you’re doing.
But it can feel like a little twist of the knife each time you encounter a well-meaning acquaintance you haven’t seen for months, and you’re forced to rehash your rejections. “Nope, not yet," you’ll say with forced cheer. “I know we had great feedback from that editor last fall, but it just didn’t happen.”
Deciding what to tell and to whom you tell it is a choice each writer must make at some point. As someone who’s been down that road, I can only say that I wish I’d spared myself some awkward cocktail party conversations.
How about you? Who knows you’re a writer? Who doesn’t? Do you exercise caution when details with people who wield sharp objects for a living, or is your hairdresser on a first name basis with your main character?