You never know what to expect from other people after you get the good news that you're about to be a published novelist.
Before the big day arrives, you've surely imagined what it will be like. I'm betting that you're wrong in several cases.
For example, I was pleasantly surprised in how my parents reacted. Growing up, I was the good girl. I regularly brought home the 4.0 GPA. I didn't break family rules. I had friends they liked and trusted. I graduated high school with honors, passed a couple of AP tests, got a scholarship, never drank alchohol or smoked, and so on.
This was all taken in stride. It's what I did. I don't recall much celebration or pats on the back about it. Doing well and doing right were just expected of me.
But for the last six years, ever since my first book was released, my parents have turned into proud peacocks, bragging about me to everyone they know. (Mom's been known to advertise my books wherever she is, including obscure places like Jerusalem. I'm not kidding.) I can't tell you what joy their reaction has brought me. Not that they weren't proud of me before, but this time I'm seeing and feeling it in a way I never had.
On the flip side, I had a close family member brush my success aside without so much as acknowledging that it happened.
We had a phone conversation shortly after my book was accepted. I could hardly contain my excitement. I wasn't bragging or trying to take the spotlight; I just wanted her to share in my joy.
But I didn't get so much as the release date out of my mouth before she railroaded over me in her own excitement, telling me all about this fantastic MLM she was now a part of, how it was such a great company, and how she was going to make all kinds of money off it.
Confused and saddened, I dropped to a stair and listened. That's all I could do. I made all the right comments and assuring noises on my end, but all I wanted to say was, "Gee, I'm so glad your childhood dream of being an MLM rep is finally coming true." I'd worked hard for eight years to make this happen. Publishing a book had been a dream of mine since the tender age of eight. But let's celebrate your new hobby, by all means.
When that book came out, I planned to give family members free copies, but they all insisted that they'd buy their own to support me. When this person went to the book store, she told the cashier we were related. "That's cheap. Why didn't she give you a free copy?" the cashier asked. The question was met with a smile and a shrug, not an explanation. That store probably still thinks I'm an ungenerous hack.
My brother's reaction took me by surprise, in a very good way. You can read about it here. He's been a big supporter. I have a gorgeous necklace with a pearl and a diamond he gave me to celebrate book 2 (diamond & pearl = two items, second book . . . cool, huh?) and a porcelain figure of the Logan Temple to celebrate book 3. All of which he presented to me at book signings with his entire family. (There was something else for that first book. Read about it at the link above.) I still get all sniffly when I think about it.
Old friends, especially those you've known since junior high or earlier, seem to have a level of disbelief that you could have written something and actually published it. (Um . . . thanks.) Sometimes you get a pleasant reaction after they read it. ("Wow. It was actually good.")
Like I said, you never know how people will react. But I can say that my husband's reaction was perfect.
The day the acceptance call came, he'd taken the morning off work. As soon as I hung up, I squealed and raced upstairs to tell him. He hugged me, kissed me, then promptly called his manager to say he wouldn't be coming in after all; he had to take his wife out to celebrate.
Before that call, he refused to let me stop or give up, knowing I'd regret it forever if I did. He's responsible for me getting my first submission into the mail. Our first Christmas, he got me my subscription to Writer's Digest. He had flowers delivered after a particularly harsh rejection. He let me cry into his arms when I doubted myself.
He's always gotten how important this gig is to me. And for that, I'll be eternally grateful.
Especially because he puts up with a lot. Trust me; it ain't easy being married to a writer.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
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This was fun to read, Annette. I've had similar reactions from various people. I'd have to say that my mom and dad are definitely by biggest supporters.
I can well imagine the many and varied responses and only hope I get to see them come to life. After all my whining though I think the most common reaction will be, "It's about time!"
I had similar experiences--people I thought would be so excited, that weren't, and others I thought wouldn't care that were ecstatic. It's been a good reminder to me to celebrate with other people when they attain their goals. Great post.
Wonderful post. I had written something once, and a friend read it and quoted from it, not knowing it was me. When I claimed ownership, her mouth fell open. She said, "I had no idea you were this deep." Uhm. Yes.
I loved the post about your brother too.
How awesome. My husband went around telling everyone I was a writer when I barely started my manuscript. He was so proud. I was kind of embarrassed, like maybe I didn't deserve the title yet. Now I like tha the does it because even though I'm not published, it's a constant reminder of my goal and that I always have someone cheering for me.
Your husband is a definite keeper! Props to him!
My problem is that I'm telling everyone I'm a writer and I have nothing ready for publication (well, the three rejections are still a work in progress). I can't imagine how amazing it will feel (see the positive talk I'm giving myself here?) when I finally get published. Of course, then I will remember this post and say "If Annette Lyon got strange reactions..." to help me from being shocked at people's less than enthusiastic responses. Hooray for the fabulous supporters!
This made me cry. So beautiful and true. Your brother is awesome
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