Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coming out of the closet

Last week I came out of the closet.

My family knows I write, and friends know I write. But I don’t tell acquaintances, even if someone asks what I do, and I have NEVER told ANYONE I work with about my writing. But last week I was at a one-day workshop, no one else from my work was there, just total strangers, and when we had to do that usual “icebreaker” introduction at the beginning and tell everyone what we do when we’re not working, I told them “I’m a writer. I write fiction.”

Note, I didn’t say I write romance.

I was waiting all day for someone to ask me about it – what do you write? Are you published?
I’m proud of what I write, but I know romance has a certain reputation and is looked down on by many people. And I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer that if someone asked. I’m prepared to defend the romance genre, but so far I’ve never had to do that face to face with someone who disapproves of it.

Well, nobody asked, and in the end I was kind of disappointed. Especially when, during one group discussion, talk turned to books people are reading. A couple of intimidatingly intelligent sounding girls were talking about going on vacation and taking Warren Kinsella’s book with them. Light reading? Oy. But then one of the girls said, “I’m taking some trashy romance novels, too. I like those.”

Well, I was just thrilled! I still didn’t get a chance to tell her that’s what I write but it all felt okay. And next time when someone asks me I won’t be so worried about how to answer.

So who's out with me? And who's still in the closet?


Meg Benjamin said...

Back before I retired I struggled with this, largely because I was pretty sure the people I worked with would smirk at me. But then one day I said, "Screw it, I'm proud of this" and told one of my colleagues. Turns out she read lots of romances (although she favored vamps and shifters) and was thrilled. You never know where you'll find romance readers, but believe me, we're everywhere!

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PG Forte said...

I've always been out, and that's been a mixed blessing.

I've gotten some damn strange reactions. From the local bookstore owner who asked when I was going to write a "real" novel...well, that's Berkeley, for you. To the co-worker in Tampa who didn't believe me--even after she saw the book and read my name on the cover. She did offer to read the book for me and give me her opinion on it. I declined. Although I did tell her where she could buy a copy.

Oh, and then there was the "gee-I've-always-wanted-to-write-too," potential boss who subsequently didn't hire me because I clearly didn't view the personal assistant/office manager job she was interviewing me for as my primary passion in life.

She was right, of course, several times over!! But she seriously needed to get over herself. lol!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Love those reactions, PG!

Hey Meg, since I was at that workshop, I've told two other people I normally wouldn't (both were men) and they both said, "Wow, my wife would love to meet you, she reads tons of romances." I'm beginning to believe that people don't admit to READING romance as much as I didn't admit to WRITING it, for probably the same reasons.

So let's all come out about reading romance!

Kate Davies said...

I've been in the closet, as it were, since I first got published. Which was a little irritating because I'd already come out as an ASPIRING romance author to many of my husband's colleagues and friends.

Almost all of them have stopped asking how the writing is going. I'm sure they're privately wondering how much I suck that I haven't sold anything in the past ten years.

But he's a school administrator, and we live in a highly conservative town, so the pen name was an attempt to keep any controversy away from his job.

Unfortunately, my kids weren't as circumspect. The youngest announced to the kindergarten teacher last year that she could find my books in the library. So much for keeping everything on the QT!

It's still not widespread, but certainly not a secret anymore.