by Kassandra Lamb ~ This might seem like I’m stating the obvious, but I’m amazed by how most folks view us writers. Writers are just people, honest we are—we have certain talents, like pretty much everyone has certain talents. But otherwise, we’re just normal folks. We have mates (or ex mates), parents and friends, children and maybe even grandchildren, pets, mortgages… All the usual paraphernalia of being human.
And you might happen to know us from high school or the PTA or because we live down the street.
Some folks are really talented with numbers so they become accountants or math teachers. Others are good at playing football or designing buildings or cooking gourmet meals.
If we happen to know an old high school buddy who became an accountant, we don’t question his talent. We ask him to do our taxes.
If we know a chef, we don’t question her talent. We just go to her restaurant and enjoy the meal. (My nephew-in-law is a chef; his crab cakes are superb!)
And yet people tend to assume that if they know someone and that someone tells them they are a writer…well, they must not be all that good at writing. Because it just can’t be that good writers are plain old people, like everybody else.
Good writers are famous, right?
Like Stephen King and Nora Roberts and J.K. Rowling.
Hmm, actually, no.
A lot of us “good” writers (and some truly great ones) are what are called “mid-list” writers. In other words, we’re somewhere in the middle of the bestseller lists—with a substantial following of loyal readers, but we’re not household names.
It’s kind of like actors. Many of them make a decent living as secondary characters on TV and by doing commercials, but they never make it “big.”
An article I read when I was a novice writer really hit home. It said that becoming a famous author was one part talent, two parts hard work, and ten parts luck. Again, so true of many fields of endeavor.
In 2019, I published a novel called Police Protection.
It was about a White cop who was accused of shooting an unarmed Black child.
I have a good friend, a Black man I met originally in college. I considered asking him to read the book before publication, to get his take on whether or not I had represented the Black characters realistically. But I didn’t know if he read mysteries. He’d never mentioned reading any of my books (I had over 20 published by then).
And I didn’t know quite how to phrase the request. “Hey, you’re Black, so would you mind reading this book?” Hmm, that seemed a little obnoxious.
(To my relief and delight, when the book came out, one of my first reviews was from a woman who praised it for describing “what we Black people deal with every day.”)
About six months after the book was published, my friend from college and I were chatting in Facebook Messenger, and the topic of that book’s theme came up. I mentioned the book and offered to send him a copy.
Ten days later, I got a message on Facebook. “You are a very talented writer” was the opening line. Even in Messenger, I could hear the surprise in his voice. 😉
If my friend is reading this, I hope he doesn’t think I’m picking on him. That surprised reaction from friends and acquaintances, when they discover I actually know how to write well, is not new.
Indeed, 12 years ago, one of my husband’s coworkers read the manuscript of my first book and said, with surprise in her voice, “You’ve got to write more books about these characters. They’re great.” Her surprised tone convinced me that she really meant it.
She hadn’t expected the book to be good.
I couldn’t possibly be a good writer, if I was just some person she knew. But lo and behold, I was!
That moment—that surprised note in her voice—that’s what convinced me to keep pushing to get my first book published. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Honest, you all, we writers are just people—plain folks, like everyone else—who happen to have a talent for writing. So the next time someone you know says they’re a writer, keep in mind that they might actually be good at writing, even if they are “just someone you know.”
Do you know a writer personally? Were you surprised to discover they are good at this writing thing?
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida. She also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Jessica Dale.
Misterio press produces an array of quality crime fiction. We post here twice a month, usually on Tuesdays, to alert you to new releases, to entertain, and to inform.
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