If you know me, you know this: I'm unapologetically ME.
No, I don't want to have kids. So what?
No, I don't like watching sunsets or taking hikes. Nature sucks.
No, I'm not interested in my husband's last name. It's lame.
But for some reason, I constantly defend my decision to be a writer and the time I put into writing, critiquing, and networking.
I had previously blogged about how Friend Z asked me, a few months into my decision to write young adult novels, "How long until you quit? Six months? A year?"
The question is reasonable for a person who doesn't understand the publishing industry. But to those of us in the know, it's absurd, and I bristled from it and said, "I would quit you before I quit writing."
In the year since, I wrote a manuscript, got an agent, got rejected by editors, began another manuscript, joined this blog and two critique groups, attended two writing conferences and countless author events, interned for a local agent as her reader, honed my craft and forged relationships.
Through it all, I dealt with questions from many fronts. "Why do you need critique groups?" "Isn't blogging a waste of time - who will read it?" "Are you doing another writing thing?" "Can't you just write the book right the first time?"
I answered those questions, defensively. I want to be clear: the people who asked me these questions are wonderful, caring people in my life. As writers, we find questions like these insulting, but from their perspective, they're trying to understand me.
This past weekend, to kick off 2010, I had a pie party for my writing friends who brought other Bay Area writers.
In addition to eating ridiculous amounts of yummy pie, I met several new faces, connected with authors I'd only known online, and scored tons of ARCs (woohoo!).
The next day, Friend Z said to me, "I thought you should know. Friend A just sold her book, and she did it without having a pie party."
The implication being that I was wasting my time with all this social networking.
I got defensive. I explained why I did the networking. Not because it leads to sales. I network because people like Friend Z don't get it - and by it, I mean writing life. Therefore, I had to go out and find people who did get it, and therefore, got me.
Explaining this exhausted me. Maybe I was having a bad day. Maybe I was tired from the holidays. I just felt like I'd been answering the same questions from the same people without any tangible benefit. Again, this is not about Friend Z. This is about me. My reaction.
So I resolved something. Which came in handy since this blog post on resolutions was due and I didn't know what I was going to write about.
I resolved to not defend my writing lifestyle anymore.
So you can ask me if you want.
Why am I going to another conference? Why do I have to meet my critique group so often? Why am I going to an author signing? Why do I waste my time on a blog?
Here's my new answer for you:
It doesn't matter why. It's my life. I get to choose what I do with it.
Sidenote: Big congrats to Friend A! She signed with an amazing editor, and I look forward to her book. For those of you out there who are decrying, "Whaaa? She sold a book in complete solitude?" No, of course not. She completed an MFA program during which she wrote her manuscript. She joined a critique group. She found her agent via a personal connection instead of blind query. She hosts a literary performance salon where she gets to rub shoulders with New York Times bestselling authors and get featured in the San Francisco Examiner. I think we all know that's just as much work as a pie party.