3.14.2007

Unpubbed novels...social pariah

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I'm interested in the tip you gave the other day about not discussing an unpublished novel socially--ever.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There are six reasons you don't talk about your unpublished novel in social situations.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The only place it is ok to discuss your unpublished novel is in a business setting such as a writer's conference, a pitch meeting or a workshop.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.

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

My mom: You should write something like Harry Potter. Look how well that did.

Me: If I tried to write children's fiction, someone would probably still get shot, stabbed, or decapitated.

Kill Voldemort, Vol. I, co-authored by Quentin Tarantino.

Whenever someone asks me what my book is about, I just smile and say, "It's a thriller." They have to drag the description out of me, bit by bit.

magz said...

Exellent advice Miss Snark. The gin's on me whenever you're passing thru Dragoon, Az.
We could chat about anything atall, from Choo's shoes vs Tony Lama's boots, to really bad hair days at the poodle grooming parlor.
Or perhaps just admire the scenery; there's some pretty hunky cowboys sippin sasparilla out on the patio..

Dragonet2 said...

And if you're in progress in a story, you can 'spill' the story out of your brain. And then you're done for. For me, if I get a good idea/scene/whatever I need to WRITE or TYPE it down because my day job and general ditziness can cause me to forget it in an instant.

After a long hiatus I've started getting serious about my writing again, but I'm sure not telling anyone, not even my critique group, about ANYTHING unless it's all finished, written out and needing criticism.

Anonymous said...

Reason #7 -- people talk. You tell someone a bit about the novel, they tell someone else, and pretty soon people you would never ever have mentioned the damn thing to decide to show off to your co-workers / relatives / friends etc. by jabbering about the book they think you're writing, but whoa! are they mis-informed! and once these rumors start, you cannot squelch them.

Anonymous said...

Reason #8, to avoid awkward conversations like in this Family Guy clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJDt2CMjmiY

I've talked about my novel socially, and I regret it.

Anonymous said...

I find it's near impossible not to mention my unpublished (and unfinished) novel sometimes. I keep a couple of hours reserved every day for writing. Whenever someone tries to schedule me for something during that time, I say, "Nope, can't do it then. That's my writing time." Then they inevitably ask, "Oh, what are you writing?" "A novel," I answer. If they keep pushing, I might say, "A fantasy novel," which is all they're going to get out of me.

Anonymous said...

anon's reason #7 is very true.

Sherry D said...

Gee willikers Miss Snark, rectal-craniotomy inversion reversion sounds pretty invasive.

Kiskadee said...

I talked about the first book I was writing to all my friends. For years after that I kept hearing: "So when's the book coming out?" by well-meaning people who had no idea of the publishing process, and imagined I only had to write it and - poof! - there it would be in print. In fact, it never got published.

The next book I wrote I kept as a secret from everyone, including my closest family. The first time I spoke of it was when I got a publishing deal. That was much better!

But there's another, deeper reason not to talk about a WIP. I first read of this in Dorothy Brande's excellent book, Becoming a Writer, and I've found it to be very true:

if you talk about your still-untold story, your subconscious believes you have already "told" it, and dries up.

N said...

So are you saying we shouldn't mention it to people at ALL, as in never saying you're writing a novel, or as in not saying what it's about? I know that my friends have helpled me through some sticky situations in some of my stuff, and I can't imagine what those stories would be like without them. And what about giving a finished novel to someone who you know will give it a good critique (fellow English major, in my case)? Is that a no-no, too?

Anonymous said...

Also, remind your spouse/significant other not to tell people about your writing, unless you want to get ambushed with questions, advice, and/or phony encouragement at the company christmas party.

Bonnie Shimko said...

Not such a good idea to discuss published books in a social setting either. I live in a small city and have had some nice local press. When I run into someone I know, I'm often asked how the books are doing and am I working on something new. I say, "Fine and yes, I'm typing away." Then I switch the conversation to them. People don't really want to know about my "job" any more than I want to hear about theirs.

Karen said...

I don't like to tell people about my novel, but people ask! I recently quit my job to stay home and work on it full time, and of couse my family and friends know about this. So they ask me how it's going, what it's about, etc. When the truth is that even I don't know everything about it yet. I don't want to be rude to people and blow them off when they ask. How do people manage this?

elfje said...

I have a question though: how do you not talk about it? I know that, living with other people in one house, people get completetely mystefied as to the reason I'm sitting behind the computer so much, and often I need to tell them what I'm doing, or they'll drag me away to go visit someone/ go shopping/ "get some fresh air" (my mother when I visit them over the summer).

It's true I don't talk about a specific novel when I talk to strangers or family, but I find it very helpful to talk about it within my writer's group. Bouncing ideas off one another often helps in getting past the sticky spots, and it's great to talk about it to someone.

I do understand about not telling all about the unfinished novel to agents and editors.
#9 quite simply being: it's unfinished. If you talk about it, then that's what it's going to have to be like. If I'd talk about it like that, it'd be like "freezing" it, no more wild ideas or big plot changes, no deleting that goofy plot hole you'd missed the first time around. Also, it'd be like showing them a bunch of electronics and wires and saying, this is going to be a wonderful machine. Anyone can nod and smile and be encouraging, but no one's really going to be able to judge with their own two pairs of eyes whether they like the look of it, test its user-friendliness. It's unfair to the novel and unfair to the person you're showing it to.

word ver: evzutwo = "ever such woe"

Ian Duncan Smith said...

It's the epitome of rudeness to go round telling everyone you're a literary agent.

Kerry Allen said...

If you must talk about your writing in some fashion, try turning your creative talents toward compulsive lying. Actual conversation I have had:

"I'm a writer."
"Oh, what do you write?"
"Scripts for porn movies."
"Porn movies have scripts?"
"What, you think those talented thespians ad lib all that scintillating dialogue?"

Everybody would rather talk about porn than anything resembling the truth, plus I get all the eccentric writer cache while revealing nothing about my vulnerable fledgling babies.

Catja (green_knight) said...

It really depends on the circles in which you move. If you're a writer and hanging out with other writers - or SF/Fantasy fans - then the talk will come around to novels and stories - written and unwritten - pretty soon. It's a big step to come out and say 'I write' but I'm glad I did it - in the circles I move it's not particularly uncommon, and not overly embarassing either.

I don't go out and shove my half-written mss into people's faces, but to talk about writing doesn't make you a pariah at all.

susan said...

Seems like Miss Snark's true passion for this subject comes up in the context of discussing the unpublished novel socially with agents and editors. That, I totally get. That would be taking advantage--like haranguing a doctor or lawyer about your med- or law-related problems at a social gathering. I would know enough not to do that. But I do think that some writers can determine who among their social circle is truly interested and how much they want to hear. And I think some writers can handle "why don't you write a romance instead?" or similar such comments. So, I don't think it's such a hard-line rule, although something definitely to keep in mind.

writtenwyrdd said...

Having someone tell you about their unpublished work is, for me, akin to hearing new parents gush about their baby ad nauseum.

If you are fellow writers brainstorming, or talking shop, that's different.

But it's never cool to hog the conversation and tell people all about some aspect of your life about which they don't gave a rat's hind end.

Bernita said...

I tell them I do research, which explains my reclusiveness.
But.
I may kill my husband.

Anonymous said...

I fight the temptation even to talk about my to-be-published book. I'm hoping it will spring to life full born, like Aphrodite on a half-shell. (Although PR considerations will require me to do some pre-pub yakking, I still avoid talking about it in casual social situations.)

Kim said...

I don't like to talk about my current WIP and anyone who asks is likely to get the "it's coming along fine" even when I'm about to set my hair on fire because my characters just won't see reason.

And it never fails that, at a family gathering, someone will always say "You should put this in your book" and point to the fighting couple. Meanwhile, I'm wishing the floor would open up and swallow them so I can finish up my drink in peace.

I don't like to tell people I'm a writer. I don't like to talk about what I am working on, or the finished product. I also don't like having to say, no I don't want to read the manuscript you've been working on for years, or no I don't want to edit your son or daughter's term paper. I have enough of my own stuff to keep me busy.

Whew - I feel better now :)

Jillian said...

Agreed.

I don't talk about my completed manuscript or my WIP. On my blog, I mention my writing pursuits in general terms.

I won't even offer a title if I do mention to a friend that I've got a book under consideration at a few places.

And if I happen to feel like leaving a comment on an agent blog -- and it's someone I've queried -- I remain anonymous.

I'll never forget having shared the first 8 chapters of my Very First Novel with my brother-in-law. He's a great guy and loves fantasy...and he proceeded to say, "What if you..." followed by his own idea of where my story might lead.

Nope. Didn't go there, won't go there again.

Anonymous said...

Once I really got into my first novel I did talk about it with friends and family, who ultimately read it. Of course they said it was good (though I know it's not publishable) and was accused of all sorts of things, to this being my innermost fantasy to you've ruined my memories of X place.

My WIP remains firmly in my head, thank you.

the poopie says said...

I don't talk about my writing in social situations for 2 reasons: 1) because it's hard to define what my writing is about until I finish; and 2)Brande's advice, relayed by kiskadee, is too true. Talk about your work and you lose the urgency to write it.

The third reason is that if my mother hears what I'm working on she'll include it in the Xmas Newsletter.

Beth said...

I hate telling people I write. The inevitable question is, "What do you write?" and with an inward sigh, I tell them, "Fantasy." After which it's as if I've emitted a bad smell, because they act like they're embarrassed for me and try to change the subject. My family (bless their well-meaning little hearts) simply keep asking, "How's the book coming? Are you done yet?", making me rue the day I ever told any of them I was working on a novel. (They only found out because my mother kept asking me what I did all day. Since she was a stay-at-home mom herself (but not a writer), this question surprised me, since running a household and raising children is a full-time occupation all by itself, without adding creative endeavors into the mix.)

To comment on something Kiskadee mentioned: if you talk about your still-untold story, your subconscious believes you have already "told" it, and dries up.

Absolutely. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I don't outline or do any preplanning. I never, never, never discuss plot ideas with anyone but myself. And even then, I'm sparing with the details.

kitty said...

So this advice applies to even, say, Janet Evanovich? Cuz I gotta tell'ya that I would love hearing about the next adventures of Stephanie Plum. And I would have paid good money to hear Nora Ephron talk about her then-unpublished book Heartburn.

Otherwise, I absolutely agree.

flannerycat said...

At certain stages of my work, I'll discuss it with a few other writers of lit fic who happen to be very close friends. They always ask exactly the right questions (and get excited about exactly the right things). On the other hand, I never, ever tell my husband, who is my best friend in the whole world, but not a fiction writer. His comments are slightly "off" and it makes me doubt my own work.
Karen, when people ask what I'm writing about, I just say that I'm terrified I'll jinx it if I talk about it. Strangely, people seem to understand that. Then I whiplash the conversation around and ask them a question in return. It always works.

S. W. Vaughn said...

For years I remained oblivious to the rudeness of babbling on about my novels (even to the point where family members who'd read some of them would start enthusiastic conversations about who should play my characters in the movie, ha ha).

Now, if anyone asks what I'm working on, I say "You know, work" (I'm a freelance writer by day) and then change the subject as quickly as possible. I'm even hesitant to talk about a WIP with writer friends, because as many have commented here, you do lose the drive to finish it.

Unfortunately, it's a hard habit to break, especially when people already know you're a writer.

Who wants to start a support group? "Hi, my name is S, and I talk about my novels socially... it's been ten days since I last blathered boorishly about my marvelous writing."

Maybe we could get Ed Norton to join. :-)

Anonymous said...

I kept looking for the most important reason, but Miss Snark didn't mention it. Writing a novel AND GETTING IT PUBLISHED can be a very, very long process. In fact, the second part may not work out at all unless you're fanatically persistent--and a fanatic. If you tell people you're writing a novel they will ask about it the next time they see you, and the time after that, and the time after that. "Finished it yet?" "Sold it yet?" Your response in the negative becomes increasingly stiff. You begin to wish you'd never mentioned it in the first place. Aside from the discomfort this causes, I believe a power leakage takes place. A chipping away at your vision. Better to nurture and protect your dream until it has fully bloomed in the real world.

Anonymous said...

I was invited to meet some agents and publishers over lunch to pitch my book. They were more interested in the wine, juicy gossip and the dessert menu. Is this unusual?

Anonymous said...

Some people will ask what you're writing to be polite or make you fill the coversational void. You can respond with the simple truth -- I'd rather not talk about that. Then you can banish them by tossing out some other charming topic, such as -- How is Bob, you both still drinking? Your facelift looks terrific, who dyes your hair?

Maprilynne said...

One of the reasons I don't talk about my book socially is because people don't get it. If you are not trying to get into the publishing industry (or at least closely acquainted with someone who is) you don't understand the milestones. My husband loves to brag that I'm a writer and he always follows it up with my first accomplishment which is that I have a really great agent. But that doesn't mean anything to most people, they just say, well, are you published? To tell them my agent is currently subbing my MS to it's first round of editors means NOTHING to them. But to me it's huge!

I'm going to steal writtenwyrd's metaphor about your book being like a new baby. I'm not showing mine off, but it seems like whenever it comes up in conversation people are like, oh, there's your baby . . . is that all? And here I thought it would be something big, or cute at least. I don't need that. I'm angsty enough about my book being on submission. I can give myself enough negative vibes, thank you very much!:)

Maprilynne

Ryan Field said...

Here's another reason not to talk about anything you write, published or unpublished, in a social setting: People tend to think all fiction is based on the writer's real life, and those of us who write fiction know that's not how it works at all.

jeanjeanie said...

I keep a couple of hours reserved every day for writing. Whenever someone tries to schedule me for something during that time, I say, "Nope, can't do it then. That's my writing time."

I made that mistake at my old job, and by the end of my tenure there much of my "writing time" was filled with coworkers coming up to my desk to see how my novel was coming and to offer advice on where I should get it published when it was done.

At my current job, I just tell people (truthfully) that I don't have 'net access at home and I need to come in early to work on personal stuff. Nobody here knows I'm a writer. The only person in my real life who knows I'm working on a novel is my husband, and I try not to talk about it with him, because he's chock full of ideas for what I should include in my story.

I do talk about it ad nauseum in my blog, but at least there nobody's forced to read or required to offer comment. Plus most of my regular readers are fellow writers, and if they do comment it's usually to offer understanding and encouragement. Nobody from my real life reads my blog, so it all works out.

Anonymous said...

this question provides very telling insight into the mind of the amateur writer. have you ever noticed that real writers don't talk about their work in public? maybe, rarely, with a professional colleague, but certainly never with lay people. i feel sorry for everyone who's been harassed by these morons.

cm allison said...

Tried to comment yesterday, but the word verify wouldn't work...
This occurred to me: Famous writer asked ME in a social situation about how the ms was coming, having heard about same from my critic readers (also at said function). Said author then (literally!) dragged me off to said author's friends and told THEM all about my ms, had me detail some plot, etc. Tried to keep toned down (thank-goodness it's done and through several edits) but still this was definately "talking about my ms in a social situation". Of course we also talked about famous author's upcoming book(s) and I got some sneak info on plots in the new book. (wink wink) Got a lot of encouragement in the query aspect, as said author's first book was not an easy sell. Social indiscretion, maybe, but I felt pretty good afterwards, and the author seemed upbeat and enthusiastic. Maybe just being nice to the struggling writer, but maybe that author's really nice personality.

Amy said...

I talk about it with my friends who are also writers, just like they talk about their unpublished books with me; some of it is because we love to bounce ideas off each other and get good feedback, and some of it is, "Oh, okay, you get to gush if I get to gush." It works out. The trick is not to talk about it with friends who AREN'T writers or with my agent or editor outside of a business-related conversation.

dan said...

I dunno, Miss Snark, for me it's like talking about my job cos I'm writing a novel full-time. I ask my friends in earnest how their jobs are and what they do, and they ask me too. I don't go yapping about it to anyone but if people ask what I'm doing I give them a short answer and if they ask more I say more.

You are right though, it's annoying to talk about things no one else knows anything about. I *try* to avoid it, but people keep asking.

Squarehead said...

Wow. I'm an ex-cop who learned the lesson long ago. Never tell anyone what you do or did for a living. Before I was forced to retire due to injuries I would tell people I was a plumber. Like agents who don't want to be bothered, I got sick of listening to people gripe about that ticket they got.

Anonymous said...

I talk about my novel socially but I've never had the negative experiences Miss Snark & some of the Snarklings talk about. IMO, the biggest danger I (or any other writer) faces is boring the ass off the person who asked. Let's face it, we're a pretty egotistical bunch and asking a writer, "So what's your novel about?' or "How's the novel coming along?" is akin to asking your great-great-aunt Elsie how she's feeling today. Got an hour or three?

I didn't tell people for the first year I worked on my novel because I didn't want to sound like just another clueless loser who was never going to finish it or never going to try to get it published. After a year when I'd convinced myself that yes I *was* quite serious about this, I started telling people, also partly because it gave me incentive to not fall into clueless loserdom. And hell, I've GOT to be able to tell my friends what I'm doing, they're the folks who can often point me in the right direction for my research! Like asking an Indian friend what the fashionistas are drinking in Goa, or my medieval re-creation friends the finer details of ancient books.

Of course, I never tell anyone enough that they could actually steal my ideas. I strive mightily to keep my answers short and sweet on how things are coming along lest I bore my friends and relations into a coma. And I would NEVER NEVER NEVER torture an agent I met personally (or a publisher).

Pretty much everyone who knows I'm writing a novel (actually, working on the second while I put the finishing touches on #1) knows I'm serious about this; they know I attend writer's group meetings, read a lot of books about writing & getting published, and are quite frankly annoyed that I often forego social functions with them so I can stay home and write/edit/revise. Hardly the profile of a wannabe who will just let it ultimately languish, half-finished, on one's hard drive.

All the arguments against talking about your novel socially are all very good ones; however I personally haven't had the problems listed, and I try to be intelligent about who and what I talk to and why.

zylaa said...

My problem is that I'm young, and I was even younger when I began this book- so of course I went "look what I can do, Mommy!" Now I think it's common knowledge I'm writing a book. My mother likes showing me off, and going "she's writing a book" to all and sundry seems perfectly acceptable to her.

However, I have an absolutely wonderful friend who I also talked about my book to- and that turned out beautifully. She also writes, and we've helped each other with great ideas and playing out characters... most everything. It's not a writing group (I'm assuming those are acceptable social situations to talk about books), but it's helped a lot.

Of course, I don't summarize my plot to her, and she never bugs me about "when's the book coming out" or gives unwanted suggestions, so she's probably rare among people.

Anonymous said...

I told family members about my novel and they were so concerned about the time it took me to get published, they suggested their author friend might agree to help me. He was with Publish America.

That was my rock-bottom moment.

Then the Gods smiled on me. About a month later my novel sold, film rights sold, foreign rights sold, my YA series sold.

I never did hear from the PA guy. I guess he was too busy.

Poodle Girl
P.S. Bernita - don't kill your husband. You're too pretty for prison.

katiesandwich said...

I don't talk about specifics of my book. I'll tell people I'm a writer, but not much more. Sometimes they ask what I write, but answering that proved to be dangerous once. When this employee of my friend's asked me what I wrote and I said fantasy, she replied, "Oh, you mean like one of those sexy romances?" Uh... no.

And I do agree that it's okay to discuss writing with other writers to an extent. The reason I feel this way is because I don't count that as discussing the novel socially. It's business. And considering that so much of a writer's work is done in isolation, it's almost essential to find someone else who can understand this thing we do and offer encouragement. For example, I love my husband, but his writing is a hobby thing, and he's supportive, but he doesn't get it. But my writer friends understand why it's taken me over four months to revise Chapter 3.

EGP said...

Miss Snark,

I find that I agree with most of your suggestions. For the most part, I don't agree with this one, and rather than try to argue the point, I'll just take the opportunity to thank-you again for your blog and your willingness to help writers.

EGP

sex scenes at starbucks said...

This is difficult because us writers have that damn mistique to overcome. I find this is where my hook line comes in handy.

"What do you do?"
"I'm a writer."
"I always wanted to write a book, love to read, wrote stories in high school, blah blah. What's your book about?"
I have five, so I can usually pick one that's finished. "A bounty hunter follows his wife's murderer into another world." (Or whatever it is)
Usually it's a great chance to practice a hook line in a relaxed setting, because if it satisfies them, then it's a good one. If they give you a puzzled look, then your hook needs work. But dang, don't take it beyond the hookline!
However, the porn script idea is a really good one, too.

ERiCA said...

I used to talk about my WIPs to non-writers. Not (I hope) in an annoying way, but from a one-thing-led-to-another way. "Wanna hang out next week?" "Can't, I'm at a writing conference/chapter meeting/whatever." "Oh yeah? Whatcha writing?" And it's not a case of not finishing the book (thanks to Anon for the FG link, tho, hilarious) because in the 1.5 years I've been doing this, I've written 4 novels. The problem is like kiskadee said--my friends and family constantly ask when they'll see the book at Borders. Lately they've been suggesting self-publishing because it's "taking so long". (1.5 years!! Drop in the bucket.) So now I regret mentioning it at all. I no longer describe plots (other than basic blurb, if that) and I definitely don't let them read parts anymore. I can't believe I ever did that. But no matter how little I discuss my WIPs with non-writers these days, the cat's well out of the bag and I will forever have to field "Why won't anybody publish your stories?" questions unless/until that shiny happy day ever comes.

Manic Mom said...

Many of my neighbors who I see daily, and do things socially with, have no idea I've written a novel. If it ever sees the light of day in a bookstore, they're going to be like, "I HAD NO IDEA!"

I just don't like talking about it to people who really just won't get it. Hell, when it is discovered that I've written a book and it is being shopped around right now, when the person asks me what it's about, I say, "Uh, ummm, it's kinda about... shit, I don't know!"

michaelgav said...

I finished the first draft of my first novel while my daughter's friend was spending the night, and I guess my vague sense of celebration and accomplishment (I yelled, "Leeeerooooy Jennkinnns!" at the top of my lungs and jumped fully dressed into the swimming pool) made an impression on the child because her parents surprised me a few months later by asking how the book was coming along. No one had ever done that before because no one knew what I was doing. And I was caught off guard and launched into a six-minute answer, which touched on character arcs and whether I should kill off my main character's brother, and so on, and so on, and became perhaps the single most self-indulgent asshole these nice people ever had in their kitchen. I could see they had no f-ing idea what I was talking about, and no interest beyond polite small talk, but I couldn't help myself. Once I was into it I felt I owed it to my audience to make them understand. It remains the most painful conversation I've had that did not include the word prostate.

Anonymous said...

Another pitfall -- when I started writing, I focused on "sweet" romance, and my husband's colleagues all knew I was writing while being a stay at home mom.

Well, I've sold, and am doing well with a small press, but it's with much spicier stuff. Because of hubby's job, and the conservative community we live in, I haven't told ANYONE about my books or the pen name I'm using.

So now, when anyone asks how the writing's going, I have to act like I'm still unpublished. Argh.

Artiste said...

I am an artist for my "day job", and I make money at it. In social settings the conversation goes:
"So what do you do?"
"I'm an artist."
"Oh. You paint pictures?"
"Yes."
"How nice. Did you see the game last night?"
Basically, most folks don't know anything about creative jobs and are uncomfortable talking with "arty" people. I talk about art with artists, writing with writers, and music with musicians. Everyone's happier that way.

Heather said...

1) Take this advice at face value, and apply some damn sense to it. Miss snark does not mean that you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever mention anything to anyone about your novel, ever. Think, people! In certain situations, it's fine. If you're sitting in a writer's group... it's not only fine it's expected.

2) If you're worried about someone stealing your idea, get over yourself. Seriously. You can't copyright ideas, and people who steal ideas from others are unlikely to ever get published, anyway (unlikely, not impossible), so don't freaking worry over it. Besides, you've got a head start, and should finish first anyway. Right? Right?

Anonymous said...

ha ha miss snark talking about whats RUDE or not

ha ha get real

Saipan Writer said...

I'm late to the party, but I wonder how this advice applies to blogging. There seem to be more and more writers blogging about their WIPs.

Not me, mind. (And I don't usually read blogs about novels-in-progress, either. Just not interested! I may like the novel, but I don't need to know how every word was wrestled to the ground and pinned in place.)

Anonymous said...

When people ask me, "What's your book about?" I answer, "Um... about 75,000 words." They give me a funny look and just sort of wander away usually.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've felt "WTF?" about something Miss Snark has ranted about. I think the strangeness to me is in how to take the phrases "talk about" (spewing a verbal outline of the entire plot, or simply admitting to writing at all) and "social situations" (party with strangers, or sharing one's hopes with a close friend). I can totally understand advice not to give blow-by-blows of the plot to a publishing professional whom you've only just met at what is supposed to be a non-work, fun party. But from Miss Snark's reasons, and from comments here, the "rule" from the rant is being interpreted to mean "never let anyone know that you write; cover up the computer screen and pretend it's a billpay spreadsheet even if you're closest friend walks by". That's...paranoid, bizarre and impractical. Sure, we all know *some* people who don't do well with the information that you're writing a book. I can see how letting the cat out of the bag to all and sundry at your day job can become a problem. I can see how certain personalities within one's family or circle of friends might not do well with the information. But to project that onto EVERYONE is excessive.
My mother is a painter, my father is an inventer, my sister is an actress, my husband is a designer, my friends are actors, writers, composers, startup founders, etc etc etc. They're not all writers themselves, but they're creative people, and have done darned well with the knowing that I'm writing a book. No, I don't tell them the plot, but yes, we do talk about the struggles of the work itself. They talk about theirs, I talk about mine. It's friendship. We share. I cannot get behind the pride being expressed her in declaring, "No one knows I'm writing! It's all top secret!" That's just weird to me.

Kiskadee said...

They talk about theirs, I talk about mine. It's friendship. We share. I cannot get behind the pride being expressed her in declaring, "No one knows I'm writing! It's all top secret!" That's just weird to me.

Weird to you maybe; to me it's natural. It has nothing to do with pride. There are some things that are intimate to me, and writing is one of them.
Of course, now I'm published people do know that I spend much of my time writing. But before I was published it was a huge no-no for the reasons I gave. It was like a delicious secret I had inside me, and letting anyone into the secret would be like releasing the magic.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kiskadee, I can see how an *individual* person, given their personality or situation, would feel like keeping their writing to themselves. I don't think that's weird at all (you sound very sensible). What I think is "weird" is the projection that EVERYONE ought to do the same--regardeless of their personality or social circle.
And the pride I'm talking about isn't in the decision whether or not to keep one's writing secret; the pride I'm talking about is "I agree with Miss Snark! I'm so cool! She would approve of me! Everyone else who has ever talked about their book with their significant other is a LOSER!" That's the pride I'm seeing in a lot of these comments...
I can see how Miss Snark, actually being an agent and all, would like to not hear about unpubbed novels in *any* social situation. But fellow writers, c'mon. It takes all kinds to make a world--people who are different from you, and perhaps different from the crowd you hang out with. Surely with your writerly imagination you can conjure up an image of two people having a *civilised* conversation about writing. That's the pride I'm talking about--the eagerness to apply this "rule" so broad and so thick that it becomes ridiculous.