An Author Among Us.

So, a strange thing has been happening at work lately. A very small frenzy seems to have started up about my books. Now, last year, a few of my coworkers expressed interest in reading Soulless and Bowlful of Bunnies, and so I got them copies, and that was kind of that for a while.

My part-time is working as a barista in a coffee shop in a local grocery store chain (Chicagoan, guess which one!), and my boyfriend works in the deli, and we’re on the smaller side for this chain, so there’s a lot of chit-chat and friendly relations between the departments, especially in the area with the cafe/hot foods/deli sections. A lot of the basic, “So what’re your plans for the weekend? What are you going to do on your day off?” With Heartless“s release right around the corner, my reply has been a slightly timid chirp of, “I’ll be working! My book’s coming out in August, so I have a lot of work to do.”

So one them decides to buy Soulless, especially since the next book coming out and she wants to start a new series to read. And then someone in the cheese department checks it out because he’s always asking me about it. And now I have to try to remember to bring in three copies on Monday because of requests, I have someone talking about how much they enjoyed it to everyone else, someone saying everyone should check it out because it’s good even though I have “a real sick mind” (lol), even someone saying I better not die before I get the third book out or else they’ll be really mad.

And I’m all, “Holy crap, where did this come from?” It’s freaking awesome, and it just makes my little heart go pitter-patter thinking people are actually enjoying the books and wanting more, but it’s just so weird. Good weird. But definitely weird. These are people I see a few times a week in a capacity that has nothing to do with my writing and everything to do with paying my bills, their coworkers, colleagues, and, in a few cases, superiors, but they’re also fans. Fans that I know on a face-to-face basis, fans I know by their first names, fans who see me regularly to remind me that I better get working on producing more stuff.

Mind. Blown. When I watched the latest season of Orange is the New Black a few weeks ago, I remember chuckling a little wistfully at Crazy Eyes’s stories going around the prison and how surreal and strange and terrifying and awesome that might feel, and now it’s almost as if something similar is actually happening. It can be really overwhelming, too, as flattering and encouraging as it is, because as much as I inwardly love the attention, I still feel a little embarrassed and shy, which I worry comes off as rude or pompous, which might alienate the very people who might be essential to my success. I also wonder if it’s a little weird for them, too, like, if they do enjoy my work, then they’re all, “It’s weird that this person has written something I like so much” because most readers don’t personally know the authors they like. Or if they don’t like it and they don’t want to hurt my feelings! I’m sure there’s a little of that, too. It just reminds me of what my ex-roommate’s dad said after BoB was released, “It’s just weird thinking that you wrote it, you know?”

I know some writers like to completely separate their writerly lives from their personal lives, but writing has always been such an integral part of who I am that I could never manage that. It’s also weird when you’ve been striving for something for so long, and, all of a sudden, your hard work is getting some traction and it’s not just all putting things out there with no response. It’s actually putting things out there and going somewhere, which is thrilling and exciting and daunting and amazing.

So, in conclusion, excuse me for a moment while I hide over there and make small excited squealing noises and wring my hands a lot.

Anyone else experienced anything like this before? How did you manage to overcome the anxiety that goes along with it, if you had any? How do you go from having no success to suddenly embracing success (even if it’s just a little success) without it driving you crazy?

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8 thoughts on “An Author Among Us.

  1. How very cool, L. S. I do get how weird it would be.

    I have a very small experience of this in my alter ego, librarian life, where I have arrived, in a very geeky way. People from all over know me, and weird stuff like that.

    I have no clue how to handle even that small amount of fame, and I still have impostor syndrome about it.

    1. It’s so bizarre and awesome all at once, and the craziest thing about it is that it’s only going to build from here, lol. I’m trying to train myself to just own it, though, and to overcome my shy modesty about it. I…have a lot of work to do, as far as when it comes to in-person interactions…

  2. To the best of my knowledge I have one fan at work, a woman who was instrumental in my decision to release all of my books on audio, since that’s her preferred format. People know that I’m “the guy with the books out”, but I work at a university and reading for pleasure isn’t very common–particularly science fiction and fantasy, which are considered low class. There’s the assumption that since I write SF and–even worse–I work in the maintenance department and don’t have a high school diploma, much less an MFA, my books must not be very good.

    1. Ugh. I have my educational background in Creative Writing and History, so I know how that bias goes, and it’s complete bull. It’s taken me so long to burst away from the idea that what I love to write isn’t deemed “good enough.” Academia is such a fascinating microcosm of individuals feeding off of each other because if it weren’t for each other, they wouldn’t exist. Meanwhile, the accursed “genre fiction” is has massive appeal, while still being able to touch on all the philosophical truths about the human spirit as any of their hoity-toity literary masterpieces.

      The fact that you’re an “everyman” means your stories are much more likely to strike on the themes that drive people and make them tick, anyway, even if the prose may not necessarily delve into all the technicals and literary devices. At the heart of it, writing should be about telling a damn good story. Everything you might pick up from an MFA and the like are merely tools to help you improve, not the end-all, be-all of “What It Takes To Be A Writer.”

      Ahem.

      Yes. I have views on this. You keep doing you, man. Churn out those stories in your heart because that’s the most important thing there is.

  3. That’s just awesome. So many people kind of feel “meh” about having an author around. When I was younger, I would be blown away if there was an author in my midst. We rarely get respect anymore, especially with real life acquaintances and even friends.

    What gets me is when my mom says, “I just get into one of your books and it’s really good, then I think, my daughter wrote this!”

    1. Man, I’m still blown away by having authors in my midst. Half the time, when I go to conventions and seek out the artists I like, I can’t even stop by their booths because I’m so flabbergasted and star-struck. And yet I am intending on BEING one of those people one of these days, so, yeah, it’s a strange mix of emotions. It’s so hard for me to imagine anyone being “meh” about it. I’m all, “BUT THIS PERSON DOES THINGS. THINGS I LIKE!”

      But that sort of approval from your parents is the beeeeest. My dad has played a huge influence on my creative aesthetics and encouraging my creativity, so when he reads something and mentions what he liked about it, I’m just the happiest little ball of writerliness there is.

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