How’s the writing going?
Summer is such a great time. Everyone is more relaxed. People go on vacation, traveling or just hanging out at the beach or the pool. You meet a lot more people than you normally do during the year.
I love that. I love traveling and seeing friends, or having them travel to come to see me. Sometimes it’s just a friend coming back home after having been away for a week or so.
“Hey, Merry, so wonderful to see you! How’s the writing going?”
They are so sweet to ask, and they do so with all the best intentions in the world. They’re asking me about my job, my passion, my interests all easily wrapped in one easy four word sentence.
My problem is how to answer that innocuous question.
It’s kind of like when someone asks you how you’re feeling when you’ve been sick. Do you tell them that you’ve been sick or do simply say “fine” because that’s all the social situation demands. You’re not going to burden someone with how you’re really feeling when they just asked an off-the-cuff pleasantry.
It’s the same with “How’s the writing going?”
It’s a pleasantry. Do they really want to know where I am in my manuscript or that I’m having trouble getting my characters to move the story along because they’re too happy gazing into each other’s eyes? No.
(Unless they’re also a writer, in which case, I’ll lie and say that it’s amazing and everything is going so well and the story is just flowing out me. They’ll give me a tight smile and not believe a word of what I say, and so they shouldn’t because, hell, they know that I tell stories for a living!)
The funny thing is… well, how often do you ask someone who you’re meeting after some time, or just chance-meeting at the pool, “How’s work? Things going well at the office?”
You don’t. Not really. It’s kind of an unspoken thing. Work is work; we leave it there. When we meet someone, you ask how they’re kids are doing, have they seen the latest fantastic movie that’s come out, where are they going/have they gone on vacation? And yet… “How’s the writing going?”
Well, it’s my work. I go to my office every day and I close myself off from the world (aside from a few forays into Facebook-land here and there) and weave my tales. That’s my job.
So is it awkward that someone is asking me about it? I kind of feel like it is, and I never quite know what to say aside from “Fine, thanks!” before quickly changing the subject.
So, aside from my father who always asks not only how the writing is going, but also when I’m going to hit the NYT bestseller list, I shove the question aside pretty quickly—actually, with my father I shove it aside even faster because his next question inevitably is “Why aren’t you J.K. Rowling?” to which I have to answer because she’s already been taken. He’s only half-teasing. He loves me, and wants me to be rich and famous, but the joke gets old really, really fast.
So I deal with my father and his funny sense of humor (which is like a pinprick in my side every time he makes it) and I’m polite to my friends without giving more information than they wanted. I smile and ask how they are and don’t expect a complete, honest answer. We go through the motions of social niceties no matter how strange or awkward they are.
It truly is great seeing friends and spending time with them. I love every moment of it and look forward to it whenever life brings us together.
So, tell me, how’s the writing going?