Hi Miss Snark,
I'm interested in the tip you gave the other day about not discussing an unpublished novel socially--ever. A number of Snarklings seem to get this and embrace it and even want to have it tatooed on their bodies.
Seems like not talking about the novel is progress would be like not talking about your boyfriend--even though you've been with him a couple years--just because he may not end up being The One. Or not talking about your young child because she may turn out to be a juvenile delinquent. Or not talking about your job--even though you spend most of your brainwaves on it--because you might get fired some day.
I don't think I get it though and wish you would explain your hard-line position. Thanks so much.
There are six reasons you don't talk about your unpublished novel in social situations. The first is probably more persuasive: you don't need criticism at this point. When you talk about your novel you think everyone will say "gee whilikers that sounds just peachy?". Nooooooooooooooo. People say things like "why don't you write a good rousing romance with none of that naked stuff, I bet that would sell" or worse "you really think you can write a whole book?". You don't need to hear that.
You don't need advice from anyone either, and you're likely to get that.
You're likely to get idiots who want to share their ideas with you, and you don't need that.
Those are all the reasons you want to hear. Here are the ones you don't.
It's rude. It's rude to talk about something no one else knows about or can read. Like showing your vacation slides...the only person really interested in how good a time you had is ...that's right: you.
It's really rude to talk about it to editors or agents in a social situation, much like it's rude to talk about your rectal-craniotomy inversion reversion at dinner with doctors.
It's really really rude to force me into hearing about your novel if I'm an agent cause it puts me in the socially unbearable position of saying either "yes of course I'd be glad to read it it" or "shut the fuck up, I have no interest in this".
I don't care if you think it's ok to do this. It's not. Not ever.
If you think you're the exception, you're not.
The only place it is ok to discuss your unpublished novel is in a business setting such as a writer's conference, a pitch meeting or a workshop.
There are no exceptions to this rule. The people who think, no who KNOW they are the exception, or that I'm just wrong wrong wrong, are the EXACT reason agents do not tell people what they do when they are out amongst real people.