Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG: Questions I've Been Asked

It's the first Wednesday of the month which means it's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the January 2, 2019 posting of the IWSG are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue Be sure to check out what they have to say, too.

OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question:What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

Honestly, I'm still thrilled when anyone expresses interest in my writing at all. I'm happy to answer the same questions about where my ideas come from and what my writing process is like and who my characters are over and over and over again. It doesn't get old.

I'm feel fortunate to have the chance to be on panels, teach classes, and give interviews to talk about my writing life and my books.

Repetition doesn't faze me. I take the same attitude I do in my middle school classroom when I'm teaching how to conjugate the verb SER for the hundredth time: it's okay to reinvent the wheel; that's how people learn to invent.

The experience is new for each learner/listener/reader even when it is no longer new for the teacher/writer/presenter.
My favorite questions are the sort that come from readers who really "get" my work. When they ask something insightful or express curiosity that stems from having read some of my work.

Early on, when the first book came out, I remember a reader who noticed that there's a bit of symbolism going on in some of the powers my Menopausal Superheroes develop, like the woman whose life was weighing her down being the one to take flight, or the woman who prided herself on her thick skin developing skin so thick it was bulletproof.

When she asked me about my intentions in doing that and how Linda/Leonel's gender change fit in, I just about exploded from within with light. If it's possible to fangirl over a fan, that's what I was feeling.

On the other side, some questions are meant to hurt and I've run into a few.

They're less fun.

Digs and put-downs disguised as questions are the worst, especially when you're in public and have to find a way to deflect without making yourself look bad with something you say, responding from hurt or anger. (This is why we never write back or argue with bad reviews, too, BTW: just don't!)

I run into a fair number of people who pull faces of disgust over the word "menopause" and say something like, "Why would you do that?" as if I just suggested we sauté a nice chihuahua for dinner.

I don't waste a lot of emotional energy on people who are not coming from a good place and have a few pat responses akin to, "I'm bored by all the muscle bound bohunks in the genre and wanted to write about interesting people." It probably doesn't win me any converts, but I wasn't going to sell to folks like that anyway.

On better days, I do a little better and say, "Why not?"

But really, you can ask me (almost) anything. I'm not that shy, and after 23 years in the classroom, I'm nigh-impossible to embarrass. And if you ask me about my life of words? You're gonna make my day.


  1. That's awesome about the reader finding the symbolism. I will probably fangirl over a fan who finds the symbolism in my book since I worked super hard on it but it's not something everyone will pick up on.

    1. It was definitely a moment where I had to suppress my inner glee so as not to freak her out.

  2. I love symbolism in books and would be super-thrilled if a reader noticed that in my work too.

  3. When a reader really gets it, it's magic. I had that last year with a book review I read for a couple of my books that had me saying, "She gets it! She saw what I was doing!" And it was amazing.

  4. That's cool readers have gotten the symbolism in your works. =D

  5. I like the idea of fangirling over a fan. It's so nice when they get what you're doing. :)

  6. People who don't get it won't get it after you answer that question anyway.
    And not much meat on a chihuahua...

  7. That's a nice take on writerly questions.

  8. Totally understand your fangirl attitude. What a wonderful fan. Best wishes for a great 2019.

  9. Aw, this is a great response, Samantha. I feel the same way about fans who really get my work, or say that it moved them/helped them in some way.

    One reader called "City of Ghosts" a tribute to China's lost little girls, and I bawled. No one had ever gotten that before (or if they did, they never said so).