12.13.2011

ON BEING A REAL WRITER

every other day i would look at this blog and think.. gahh, i really need to post something. i should do that. i need to do that. i should probably say something, especially now that my book is out. now that my book is out i should really, really probably maybe say something.

but i didn't know what to say.

this has been one hell of a ride, all of this. it's been scary and terrifying and really scary and very terrifying and it's been more fun than i've ever had in my life. i have so many FEELINGS about things now, but, even though technically i call myself a writer, i seem to have lost all the words needed to write them down.

i feel a little different now. like if i were a tin can and you shook me you'd hear some stray piece rattling around inside of me, clanging and making it known to the world that a part of me has come loose. because it's true. a part of me has come loose. a part of me is now printed on 338 pieces of paper and has been placed on a shelf for all to see. so i feel kind of funny about that.

i forget, all the time, for example, that people can just walk into a bookstore and buy my book. i get calls and texts and emails and messages from old friends, distant family members, that one lady i met at a dinner party 3 years ago who somehow has my phone number. they say wonderful, wonderful things like "omg i just bought your book!!!! congratulations!!! this must be so exciting for you!!!!!" and unfortunately, my immediate reaction is generally something like "OHHHH, RIGHT, THAT, HEYYY, YEAHHH LOLOL, MAYBE, LISTEN, YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIKE IT OR ANYTHING, WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT OR ANYTHING OKAY GTG TTYL" and then i stick my phone in the freezer.

i meet people and they say things like "omg i just googled you!" 
i say goodbye to people and they say things like "omg i'm going to google you!" 

i'm not exactly sure what people hope to impart when they say these things to me; no doubt they think they're complimenting me in some way, and so i try to be cool about it and manage to nod and smile and before pulling a paper bag over my head. because in truth, these exclamations make me want to go home and hide all my google-bits and build a blanket-fort under my desk and live there for the next 10 years.

but then (!) 

just as i've put the finishing touches on my hermit-nest (!) 

i'll get a really wonderful email from a reader that makes me so happy that for a moment, i don't even mind that my google is showing. i'll put pants on that day and actually leave my house and maybe squint in the face of natural light for a little while, and then i'll pay too much money for a cup of coffee and haul myself to a bookstore. there, i will inevitably find myself in front of the Young Adult section, standing there in my unbearably self-conscious skin, wild-eyed and crazed, suddenly acutely aware of just how much my google is showing and convinced that at any moment, someone is going to pop out of the aisles and accuse me of vanity. seriously. i can't even make eye contact with my own book. i see it and dart in the other direction because i'm afraid someone will catch me admiring it, and oh, god, how terrible that would be, and i really hope that never happens, because that would be so embarrassing i think i would just die a little bit, right there on the spot.

so yeah. this is what i've been doing. trying to learn how to be gracious about these kinds of things. i'm trying to learn how to stop laughing when people compliment my book (apparently this does little in the way of advancing sales); i'm trying to learn how to roll myself in bubble-wrap every day before waddling over to the internet where i carefully avoid all sites save shoe stores, tumblr, and netflix; i'm trying to learn how to eat solid food on a regular basis (apparently a diet of coffee and chocolate will kill me prematurely); and i'm trying to learn how to blog again. i swear, you'd think i've just told you i've been in a serious car accident and i'm going through physical therapy. ugh, melodramatic much.

the doctor has full faith that one day i will blog again, friends.

but really, of all of the things i've experienced, the strangest thing thus far has been this... this, i don't know, this stamp-of-approval that people find on my forehead. and even though i check the mirror every day and still haven't found it yet, people keep insisting that it's there.

overnight, i went from being "a writer" to A Writer. 

i tell people i write books and they look at me like i've said something remotely amusing, like i've said something in another language that, roughly translated, actually means "i couldn't get a real job." it's only when they realize that i have an actual book in an actual bookstore that they suddenly look at me like "oh, god, i totally thought for a second that you were one of those loser 'writers' who hasn't actually published anything, lolol, my bad, my bad, you're cool, carry on." and oh, it's so gross, guys. i hate it so much. i hate the implication that you can't be a real artist without having sold something. i hate that we don't appreciate struggling artists until they've "made it," i hate that writers aren't appreciated until they're "published," i hate that musicians are pitied until they "get that record deal." because there's no such thing as a stamp-of-approval. and i hope you guys know that.

i hope you know that if you write? if you write with heart and soul and passion, you will always be a writer. you will always be an artist. and i hope you'll never let those disapproving, disappointed looks affect you. i hope you know that no one can tell you what it means to be a "real writer," especially not some random guy who knows nothing about who you are and all you've struggled to achieve.

anyway. i just wanted to say it's good to be among friends. my writer and reader-friends. you're all awesome. if you read books, please keep on reading them. and if you write books, please keep on writing them. because i can't wait to buy them.

i hope you're all doing so well. i've missed talking to you.

<3

68 comments:

Amie McCracken said...

*hug*

Kaloo5 said...

Lovely :)
I used to be a struggling artist until my mom took away my colouring-in book ;)

Now I can't wait to get my hands on your book. If I spent less time blogging and tweeting and more time toward finishing my book, maybe someday, just maybe, I could add the title of 'Writer' after my name. Until then, I shall take comfort in knowing that I have friends like you who are living the dream. Kudos :)

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

<3

Jordyn said...

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

April Plummer said...

" tell people i write books and they look at me like i've said something remotely amusing, like i've said something in another language that, roughly translated, actually means "i couldn't get a real job."

Yes...I get this look all the time. What a crazy ride you've had! Your book is, of course, on my wish list along with about a million others. :)

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Taherah,

I've been reading your blog for a few months (and I *was* wondering what *they'd* done with you!)

Super congrats about being able to walk in and at least look in the general direction of your book - I'll probably keel over myself when it's my time :)

Good luck also with the next phase of life and your google-ness :)

Em-Musing said...

Wooo hooo! Weee heee! Yeee ha! Just relax and enjoy being published,it's a huge accomplishment. I'll do some whooping it up and cheering for you. Glad you're back blogging.

Rebecca said...

> and then i stick my phone in the freezer.

I hope you don't mind that I'm laughing so hard; it's only because this post so perfectly encapsulates the simultaneous inner/outerness of being a writer (at whatever stage).

I wish you all the best in getting through this adjustment. :)

Erin Bowman said...

(((hugs)))

I love this. Every last word. Perhaps these especially: "and then I stick my phone in the freeze," followed closely by this: "there's no such thing as a stamp-of-approval. and i hope you guys know that...if you write with heart and soul and passion, you will always be a writer."

You are amazing. Thank you for this post.

Yahong Chi said...

Lovely lovely lovely. I think after a while it gets hard to say the right thing to "A Writer", and I see it works both ways -- after a while it gets hard to respond to the things people say when you're "A Writer".

Thank you.

Ava Jae said...

Oh. My. Gosh.

This post is so beautiful, Tahereh. I'm a writer and I've not yet been published, but some of the things you talk about are things that I know will most certainly get my nerves going if I ever do get published. Good to know I'm not crazy (or if I am, that I'm not the only crazy one).

And the rest of your post is just so encouraging and beautiful and the only thing I can really think of to say is thank you. Your writing is incredible and your posts are just wonderful. Don't worry about not posting frequently because when you do, your posts are entirely worth the wait.

Thank you!

literaryellymay said...

Oh, I'm so glad you're back-ish. :) While I have no idea how it must be right after you publish a book (since I'm still one of those "loser writers who haven't made it yet"), I have sympathy for your struggle to graciously handle compliments. I have that issue, too, and that's from people I KNOW. I can imagine it'd be quite difficult receiving praise from complete strangers. Just realize it's warranted. Strangers don't compliment another stranger without good reason. :)

Marsha Sigman said...

Well hello, old friend. I am glad you decided not to be a full time hermit!

If my book was on a shelf at the local B&N, that is where I would spend every lunch hour. I have no shame.

But I am the only one who defines me.

Sarah Allen said...

Yay! I'm so glad to hear from you :)

As one of those struggling, not-yet-published-but-working-on-it writers, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. Both the support I feel from you in the position I am right now, and a better understanding of what it might actually feel like when I am A Writer.

Also, congratu-freaking-lations. Seriously, revel in the glory of being published, don't let trolls and snarks and haters ruin anything for you.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Bryan Russell said...

If you stopped blogging I'd have to go somewhere else for random photos of cool sneakers.

Also, a HUZZAH! just for you.

Rida said...

You are awesome. And that whole distinction between a writer and A Writer? Well, as long as other writers and Writers know that we're all the same, just a little ahead or behind on the same journey- I think I can deal with those weird looks.

You. Are. Awesome. I had to repeat that :)

Kathryn said...

Thanks for this, Tahereh. Your last paragraph is why I don't tell so many people I write! *sigh* Your an awesome cheerleader for us artists on the interwebz. :D

Melody said...

TAHEREH!!! It made my heart happy to see you in my feed reader! I was like, omgosh, hold everything, Tahereh's back! :) :) :) I can't say I totally understand, 'cause I know I don't, but I can tell you these two things:
1) I thought you were awesome before you had a publishing deal, after you had a publishing deal before your book was out, and after your book was out. You're just awesome, and no amount of being published can change that.
2) Also, if I ever see you in a bookstore, I will have no qualms about standing and staring at SHATTER ME all day long. Just for fun. :)

Krispy said...

I've missed your posts, but every time you have one, they're pretty amazing. Thanks for this! Your pep talks are my favorite (and often much needed)! *hugs*

Dorothy Dreyer said...

So glad to see a post from you. Now I know you haven't forgotten us. *hug*

Hiroko said...

Wow. Your post really puts that much-sought-after deal into perspective. Much like you - and everyone else - should be writing as an actual occupation, getting published is work! Sounds awe-inspiring, being caught up in all that excitement, but tiring simultaneously.

As always, however, your posts are still well-written. :)

Kristi said...

Thank you. You're the real deal. I hope I speak for all of the other writers like me (the ones still struggling to get that book deal) when I say I like you even more now that I've read this post. Best to you.

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...

You are just an all-around awesome human being.

That is all.

*high fives*

Sash and Em said...

*double hug* you rock.

juniperjenny said...

You are darling.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU

I launch in four weeks, and some of this weirdness is starting to creep in. I appreciate your honesty with this whole wonderfully crazy experience.

Julie Musil said...

Through it all, you've remained gracious and humble, and all of us are rooting for you. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, Tahereh, you are too awesome for words. I love the visual image of you hiding in a blanket fort under your desk! Stamp of approval or not, we all love and adore you--AND your amazing, wonderful, beautifully delicious book! :-)

Lexie said...

Please never stop being an incredible person. The world would be a far less awesome place without you.

Shae Carcar said...

Wow! For someone who doesn't know what to write, you sure wrote a lot! Lol but it was funny, so I loved it!

Katie said...

Wow, this is SO AMAZING, and so true. I'm definitely going to be sharing this.

HELLO, WHO IS THIS SUSY? said...

Aww, and that is why you're awesome. Always humble and kind and funny! I love your posts!

georgiaho said...

Hi Tahereh!

I'm so glad I stumbled upon (not that website, but literally) your blog (though I forgot how that happened) at the start of the year. I literally keep checking for updates because your journey makes me feel as if I'm one step closer to being published too.

I'm still in the process of writing (a lot of books at the same time... It's a wonder I'm sane), and when I doubt that I'll ever be published I'll remember you did it. That really helps. A whole lot.

Hopefully one day you'll be able to read my book(s) and I'll be able to fly over from Singapore and say hi.

Thank you. Don't ever stop blogging and writing. <3

Daisy Whitney said...

Beautifully said.

Valerie Kemp said...

really lovely post!

Sarah said...

Yep - you're a writer. You captured those feelings so beautifully in this post. That crawl out of your skin awkwardness that layers around the shock, disbelief and PRIDE at doing what you love to do! So happy for you!!

Creative A said...

"i'll get a really wonderful email from a reader that makes me so happy that for a moment, i don't even mind that my google is showing."

Just so you know, I snortlaughed at this. Like out loud. Because seriously, it's true! That's how it feels!

I will tell a really short story to make you feel better. For an audio class, I recorded a 10-minute book reading from my unpublished book. And then mine was one of the productions picked to show the whole class. I thought I would die. I mean, really, I was kind of panicking, because it's not perfect, it's not edited, nobody is supposed to see it yet!

But afterward, this amazing thing happened, where all the students got excited for me and started asking intelligent questions and wishing me luck in trying to get published.

Some people get you're an artist before you're published. They just want to be able to experience it, too.

Very very best,
-Mandy

Vicki Orians said...

What a great post! I can only imagine what you must be feeling right now, but I hope the feeling you get from knowing that others are loving your characters and your world is just as powerful as the butterflies you feel when people mention "googling" you. It's so encouraging to those of us trying to get published to see someone do so well with their first novel! Your book is fantastic, and I cannot wait to read more! Best of luck to you, always!

Lindsay Mead TheBookVlogger said...

At first, I totally wasn't with you on this one. If my book is ever published, I think I will get a ladder, climb onto my roof, and literally shout it to the world. Then, when my throat is sore and scratchy, I'll climb down, find a corner, and just cry from pure-disbelieving happiness.

But then I reached the final few paragraphs of this post and you took a turn that I didn't expect. It's funny that after what I just said above, this post has reminded me that it doesn't take my book being published for it to be a real book-- Even though it will likely be rejected 150 times and it will probably never be manufactured and placed prettily on a featured bookshelf. It contains my blood, sweat, and most definitely my tears. It has consumed more than 10 years of my life and I'll be damned if it's not a real book. It is a real book, it just doesn't come with a really fancy cover. Period.

Sherre said...

I just got done reading your book and loved it. it's great. (review is up on my page if you'd like to read it) I love you, and your book, and your blog and have missed reading all your funny posts (no, I do not sound like a stalker, thank you very much). I've got an idea about the whoe you staring at your book in the bookstore. Do it, and get a friend to take a picture of you doing it. That way you can post it for yourself on your blog and nobody can say anything.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

I *heart* you!!!!!!

salarsenッ said...

Sweetie, you have no idea how much this helps me. I am 'this' close to getting my novel or my picture book out there. It just hasn't happened yet. Despite this, I'm being asked to visit schools to talk about writing, etc... I've even been interviewed for live TV. Weird, and I feel like I shouldn't because my 'book' isn't out yet. Thank you for your candor.

Lydia Kang said...

hmmm. writer vs Writer. I'm starting to know what you mean by that. After I sold, I felt like I crossed this invisible line when in fact, I hadn't moved at all.

Hang in there and I hope you are not getting so freaked out you can't be happy about your success.

Naomi Canale said...

Beautiful post, Tahereh! This summer at SCBWI LA, David Small said some really wise words. He said, "As artists we need to learn to take compliments." And then proceeded to show us how to pat ourselves on the back. His words did make me feel more confident about compliments :)

Katheryn13 said...

I'm a newbie "taking it seriously" writer and I love this blog. It's so true that so many people out there, who clearly don't understand, look at someone who says what they do, and rolls their eyes like "yeah, sure, whatever" and it really kills me when they don't believe. When these people, even family, don't have faith.
I saw your book on Amazon the other day, and really am going to buy it (just as soon as I get some money!) ... LOVE IT! I think i respect writers (well, most) more than I do some actors/singers. Probably because I long to be a successful writer some day. Right now, I'm content with working my way up. It's fun, it's rewarding and damn, it's what I love to do!

Heather Kelly said...

I love this post. And not just because it makes me giggle. But also because it really, really makes me experience this kind of shadow walking which you must be doing right now.

I feel I am there with you. And hope that you know, that in some ways we all are--here to support you.

My favorite line: "make me want to go home and hide all my google-bits and build a blanket-fort under my desk and live there for the next 10 years."

We'd be happy to keep you company under your blanket-fort if you choose this option. :)

Natalie said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for writing it.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Just to let you know - I'm now purchasing your book after reading this post.
Seriously amazing how you've captured the emotions.
Please be proud of your google bits.

Ali Trotta said...

This post made me teary and happy. I am looking forward to reading your book (someone is getting it for me, for Christmas -- anticipation overload, in the mean time). For the record, I'd totally be doing the book-dodge-dance, if I were in your position. Also, a blanket fort? Never a bad idea. *grin*

But I have to thank you for the paragraphs about what being a writer is, and not having something published doesn't make you any less of an artist.

I really love your blog, and I'm glad that I found you through twitter.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

The best blog post I've read all day.

Pam Torres said...

i'm in the you're-doing-what stage. A year in focusing on my writing and I still get that glazed over look after I say I have some articles and short stories published but I'm still looking for an agent and publisher. I have to admit, before I began doing the research I thought that sliding into something I'd always loved and excelled at would be east. NOT! I think it's even harder to take myself seriously some days.

Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on your book!

Enchanted by Books said...

Just wanted to let you know that I am giving away a copy of Shatter Me on my blog at www.enchantedbybooks.com in case your readers are interested in winning a copy! :) Feel free to spread the word. Thanks.

S.P. Bowers said...

Awesome post, thanks for that.

The Reading Enchantress said...

Hello Tahereh,
I love your blog and I just finished your book and absolutely loved it! You are an amazing writer and should be so proud of your accomplishments! You can check out my review here: http://thereadingenchantress.blogspot.com/2011/12/shatter-me-by-tahereh-mafi.html
I look forward to reading your next book! Keep up the awesome work!
--Olivia

Bee said...

You are a fantastic human being, Tahereh. Just like you were when you first entered the bloggy world and would write those brilliantly motivating posts.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Trisha said...

Great post - thank you for this! And I am glad you're coming to terms with it...slowly but surely!

Alexander M Zoltai said...

Just published a post about this post:
http://nfaa.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/when-a-writer-becomes-a-writer/

Claudia said...

i got your book at christimas. Read it and finished it today. i really love it! Thank you for these wonderful hours :)
(excuse my english :S i'm working on it.)

June G said...

Yep. The world is always trying to find their own way of legitimizing people. You have it together, though. And you've written a really good story! I'm looking forward to part two :-)

Willa said...

You always seem to be able to put across a huge idea into so few words and make it work.
Your book is amazing - keep on going! YOU CAN DO IT!
-Willa
www.willasramblings.blogspot.com

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

My goodness, you put that well.
I've missed you!!! Happy New Year. How is the new book going?

Lacee said...

aaaaahh, im scared now! haha, kidding, but it sounds so overwhelming! And I sort of know that feeling about people talking about your book - I've had friends read what I've written and I get really timid about it and paranoid that maybe they just don't want to offend me when they say it's good.
And also, I SO know that "look" you get when you say you're a writer, UGH! It's like, obnoxious and it is sooo true how people think that "arts" aren't "careers" - okay, it's freelance, that doesn't mean its not a damn job! "oooh, so you're a banker? so you sort out other peoples money for a living? I'm sorry, I didn't realise that was better and more respectable than putting your heart and soul into something you love."
Grrr!

Maureen said...

Beautifully said....Very true.
I woke up the day after publishing day and suddenly my opinion was sought...strange... as I had the same opinions as before...LOL

Loved your book and am talking about it like crazy so if you have sales in NZ...heheheh

Blook Girl said...

One of the best posts I have EVER read.

Thank you, Tahereh <3

Ishta Mercurio said...

Great post, Tahereh. :-)

Vivien said...

Count me in!! I'm so excited :)

tweeted:
https://twitter.com/#!/deadtossedwaves/status/168105124013678592

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Adelle Yeung said...

Oh, Tahereh! That last part was so inspiring! Thank you so much!

Actually, the whole post is fascinating--what it's like to doing your hobbies to actually seeing your passion on a shelf to be SOLD! Thanks for the insight :D

Megan said...

For some reason I came across this post just a tiny bit late. (cough, cough.) But you know when they say everything happens for a reason? Well, I really needed to read something like this today. Thank you. There's nothing worse than feeling like an insignificant little "writer" surrounded by best sellers.

Related Posts with Thumbnails