I need to write about the process of writing.
It helps me keep writing.
This can be tricky when you also need to protect your process, and protect your project until it’s fully formed.
If you tell people you’re writing a novel, they start asking a lot of very well-meaning questions. (Unless, of course, you are very lucky. And they stare at you in awkward silence and then change the subject.)
They ask, what are you writing about?
I mean, just generally.
You must be able to tell me something?
What kind of story is it?
Do you have an agent?
Do you write full time?
Are you “published, published” or do you >gasp< publish yourself?
For me, the honest answers to these questions are usually: I don’t know. I don’t know. Not yet. Sometimes the answer is We’re at a party. Let’s not talk about work.
[Okay. Maybe we’re not at a party.
Maybe we’re at a small, intimate gathering of very close friends. Either way, let’s not talk about work.]
It’s completely normal to ask these questions.
The trouble comes in when all we have to offer in response are truthful, but unsatisfying answers.
It’s hard to know for sure, for sure, what is happening with a story, until the thing is done, and in print, and in the hands of readers. Until then, it’s all a work in progress.
There is this fine line for us because we need to connect. But we also want, and need, to remain distant observers.
On top of that, we often need to connect without actually having to, you know, socialize.
It’s a balancing act; connecting enough to stay motivated and encouraged, but maintaining enough space to stay engaged in the writing process.
There are definitely writers that will be thrilled to tell you all about what they are writing.
But, for most of us, having someone ask a lot of probing questions when a project is still in its early stages, can be like having someone ask, “Hey, so how is that marriage of yours going? …I mean just, generally.”