There are three general reactions to me around my home town since I've gotten published. One is what one might expect, excitement. People want to know when the book will be available, how long it took to write it, how much research I had to do, etc. These people are my favorite kind, even when their questions include, "When do I get my free autographed copy?" or "Do you think your agent would look at some of my daughter-in-law's poetry?"

A second group seems to be afraid that I'm going to collar them, make them read Macbeth's Niece, and then quiz them on the details. This may be because I was English teacher to many of them and did assign reading, but other authors report similar experiences. Comments like "I don't read," or "I only read westerns" are commonly used in a defensive manner, letting the author know that there's no way on God's green earth they're going to shell out money for that (or any) book. Fair enough. If I don't go into your tractor supply store, it's probably because I haven't got much use for tractor stuff. Doesn't make me a bad person.

The third group is the most interesting to me. A small number of people that I count as friends: former coworkers, members of groups I participate in, or just people I've known all my life, don't want to talk about this book thing at all. I showed the ARC of my book to a former coworker the other day and she got very excited. As we talked a woman came by whom I'd worked with for years. Friend A said to Friend B, "Look, it's Peg's book. Isn't that cool?"

"Nice," she said with the fakest smile I've seen in years. She walked by purposefully, as if in a big hurry, but there was a performance-like quality to her exit from the scene.

One gentleman in a group I meet with weekly puts his head down whenever someone mentions the book. (It's never me. Once people know about it, I let others bring up the subject.) When the conversation moves on he joins in again, but he's never said a word about my success, even though he has opinions on every other subject in the world.

As I said, three groups, and I understand that most authors experience all three. We're told to develop a thick skin, and my sense is that it isn't only for critical agents and editors I'm going to need to turn off my sensitivity. If this is what I get when the book isn't out yet, how will I deal with friends who feel it's their duty to tell me what's wrong with my writing? I guess that's why it's so great to hang out with other authors. At least they know how much work it took to get this far.

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Comment by Jess on November 6, 2007 at 12:16am
Great post, Peg. That third group of friends is interesting. I'm wondering if I've encountered that group. I don't think so--at least not to that extent. I sold a romance back in 1996 and I think most of my non-writing buds were surprised speechless that I sold one. LOL
Your situation puzzles me. Did those two friends you mention know you were writing a book or is this something you kept to yourself? Their actions almost sound as if their feels are hurt, as if they feel betrayed. Then again, maybe they've realized: Yikes! she really is smarter than me. LOL Anyway, don't worry about their actions, enjoy your success and make the most of publicity, book signings and all good things that come your way.

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