Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Personal Challenges of Being A Writer

Jennifer has some adjusting to do…still.

I’m a writer. Apparently, part of being a writer is learning to swallow your pride and embarrassment, or at least, it is for me.

I volunteer on my Temple’s executive board, which means I help set the direction we go, strategize, oversee committees and hire and fire clergy. It’s serious, it can be more time-consuming than a regular paying job and it’s stressful.

Last night, we had an important board meeting. My entire focus was on this meeting, the potential outcome, fallout, reaction, etc. Imagine my surprise when my friend and fellow board member held up one of my books, and another board member started commenting about it to me from across the room. I was more than a little embarrassed.

My Rabbi, who happens to be a good friend of mine, and knows all about my writing, although thankfully does not read my books, made a joke and asked me how many shades of red I was turning. As he was sitting next to me, he could see that I was turning approximately 15 shades of red. I called across the table to please discuss the book with me after the meeting.

I should have had a better response. I probably could have managed one if I were more prepared. But we were already starting the meeting late and it had the potential to run late into the night with lots of debate. The very last thing I was thinking about was my writing—although earlier in the day, I did contemplate bringing my computer to get in some editing (there tends to be some wasted time with chitchat, etc.).

Part of the problem is that it’s sometimes hard to be taken seriously, and being known as a romance writer doesn’t help that. And part of the problem is that I’m always embarrassed when attention is drawn to me.

I don’t mind being identified as a writer. In fact, it’s my abilities as a writer that lead the rest of the board to look to me to draft letters to the congregation, rewrite forms or manuals to better reflect our philosophy, etc. And it’s a skill of which I’m proud.

Now I just need to learn to handle it on the fly better!


  1. Consider last night practice, Jen. You'll handle it better next time because of it.

  2. Jen,

    I know as writers we're always supposed to be 'on' to talk about our books, but it is difficult when the topic comes up unexpectedly and in a place you weren't expecting it.

    Maybe, too, the old adage is true about most writers being introverts.

  3. Actually I think you responded in exactly the right way, as the other board member shouldn't have produced your book in the middle of a meeting.

  4. Debra, I'm a total introvert, even more so as I get older. Paula, thanks. It's hard enough keeping these people on track as it is.

  5. Exactly, Jen. There's a time and place for anything, and this was the wrong time and place for you to talk about your book.
    This reminds me of the time when I was at a social group meeting about a year ago and the chairperson (who'd recently discovered I was an author) made an 'announcement' about me during the meeting. Immediately, others started firing questions at me (how long have you been writing, where do you get our ideas etc), and I just laughed and said, "I'll have to give a talk sometime to answer you all". Result, I was 'booked' to talk to the group - and that has led on to me doing talks to other groups too! So far I have three bookings this year (including one to a group of about 200 - eek!)

  6. Wow, that's wonderful, Paula! I'm giving one this weekend, with a panel of other writers. As much as I hate public speaking, I find I love doing them. And I sell a lot of books!

  7. I can imagine that reaction when your mind was focused so much on the business, Jennifer. Paula has the answer, I think! At least people are recognising you as a writer, though, which is positive.