Why I’m No Longer Talking About Writing

I recognize that this title is misleading, especially given more than half of the posts that I put up, but I promise it’s going to make sense by the end of this post. I can take myself right back to high school, handing out spiralbound copies of my book to literally any friend that would ask for one. I’m sure there are still some very, very early copies of my first book floating around, and that honestly makes me want to break out in hives. Even as recently as about five years ago, I was giving copies to fellow yoga teachers and a whole slew of friends, asking for feedback. More than half of them promised feedback and then never even bothered to read, let alone tell me they didn’t have time/interest. The other half was split between people that took their sweet time and then sneak attacked me months later with feedback and people that would go on to read other books because their feedback was so invaluable.

For a long, long time, I was very flippant with my writing. I would tell anyone and everyone what it was about, what I was currently working on, even what my future plans were. If someone asked if they could read it, they got the standard question, “Do you prefer Google docs, PDF, or printed?” The amount of books that I’ve printed and given to people who have asked if they can read my writing is astronomical. I handed it off to high school teachers and friends, college friends, work friends, yoga teachers and students–when I say everyone, I mean literally everyone. If you showed even the slightest interest, I was ready to pour my entire heart out to you.

Obviously, if I’m writing this post, that means something changed.

In college, I met two girls during orientation week, and I ended up rooming with one of them for my first year. She was chaos defined, and we didn’t last past the first year for several reasons. I’d become good friends with the other one, though, so I asked her to room with me the following year. We visited each other during the summer, talked all the time, and hung out constantly at school, so it made the most sense. We ended up living with each other for three years, and I’ll never forget that last year.

During sophomore year, I met Erin, who I’ve definitely met in a previous life, and who I’ll continue to love dearly in all my lives to come. She’s one of my best friends ever, even if my roommate tried her hardest to keep us from becoming friends. Because though I met Erin sophomore year, we didn’t become friends until junior year. All throughout sophomore year, my roommate lied to each of us. It was little, tiny lies that, when you look at them separately, really don’t amount to anything at all, but when you pile them all together, paint a very specific picture. She told Erin that I hated classical music. She told me that Erin thought superheroes were dumb. She told Erin that I didn’t really like making new friends. She told me that Erin was hard to get along with. She lied to us, over and over, until Erin and I were destined not to become friends.

Why? Honestly, I know it was jealousy and fear because the friendship I have with Erin was probably written down in legend, and my roommate felt like she was going to lose me to her. Little did she know that she was doing that all on her own. Once Erin and I started talking, we realized that we had a lot in common. All the things that my roommate had said we didn’t, it turned out we did, and the most important of those lies was this–we both wrote, and we both liked to share our fanfiction online. Very quickly, Erin and I started exchanging fanfiction, and, if you look back at any of my AO3 notes during college, she’s probably mentioned in every single one of them.

It’s weird, too, because my roommate was also a huge fan of fanfiction, and we would talk for long hours into the night about all our favorite fics. But it was like the moment that Erin and I started becoming friends, the moment we started sharing our stories with one another, my roommate gave up. She stopped reading mine. Instead, she asked me to summarize what I’d written that day. She wanted to know what I was planning on writing next, but she refused to actually read it. When, at long last, I said that she could just read the fics if she was so curious what was happening in them, she stopped asking altogether.

And, all at once, it came clear. She’d only ever cared about my writing when our friendship benefitted her, and now that my attention was halved, she didn’t care anymore. Not about me, and not about my words.

It seems like such a little thing, I know. But that little thing is one of the most important things in my life. I’ve been writing for two decades now. I started in elementary school, and there has literally never been a time when I wasn’t writing. For twelve years, I worked on the same novel. I always joke that half of my brain is lingering in whatever world I’m writing in, but it’s not a joke even a little. And, if you don’t believe me, here are two totally psycho things that only writers do:

  1. When I’m falling asleep, I’ll pretend to be my characters, even whisper out loud what they would say to each other.
  2. While I’m driving, I sometimes fake interview myself for the potential book tour that I might go on someday.

Truly psycho, and I can’t believe I just admitted either of those, but they’re legit things that I do because writing means more to me than anything else in my world.

After my roommate started to pull away from me, after she outright refused to read anything I wrote after years of consuming anything I put to paper, I started to get a little more hesitant with sharing. Not a lot, but enough. When people would ask to read, I wouldn’t outright hand over my books anymore. I would still ask people to read them, but I would rarely hand it out anymore.

And then, everything with one of my oldest friends happened. I’ve told this story a million times, but the tl;dr of it is that I met him in middle school, we were basically joined at the hip for half our lives, and I trusted him more than anyone with my writing. He was the first one to read everything, the one to hear all the crazy ideas before they were transferred to paper, the one I spilled my heart to, over and over. We met every week to discuss whatever we’d been working on that week, and I never in a million years expected things to end quite as they did. There was a lot that was said that I’ll take to my grave, but the gist of it was that he thought I was a shitty person, friend, and writer, and he was so glad to have finished my current book because he’d never hated anything as much as he did that.

I won’t lie, I nearly stopped writing altogether.

This is not meant to be a pity party. Over the years, a lot of people have referenced my writing as a “fun hobby” or something to pass the time. “Oh, that’s so nice,” they’ll say when I tell them that I write, “Good for you.” There’s a lot of condescension surrounding writing, which is a real shame considering literally every person I have ever met has enjoyed reading at least one book in their life. This post, then, is to do two things–explain why I, personally, am not talking about my writing anymore, and why you should be very careful how you minimize what someone loves.

The final straw for me happened autumn of last year. The cases had lightened a little in MA, and people were starting to get a little more lax around regulations. I was still keeping my distance from pretty much everyone, but I’d occasionally do outdoor dining or go for a walk with a friend. I did that one night, and I’ll never forget it. Until that night, this friend had never painted herself as anything but progressive. She supported human rights, she went to protests, and she was generally on the same moral wavelength as me.

Over dinner, I asked for the vegetarian option for food, and she said, “Why would you do that? You need protein.” It didn’t make me hesitate a lot, but it did enough because it seemed like a strange thing for her to say. “I’m getting plenty of protein from non-meat sources and other foods during the day,” I said, “I don’t eat meat.” She scoffed at me. “That’s dumb. It’s not like animals feel fear or anything.” It was the beginning of three terrible statements of the night, and my hackles immediately went up. I didn’t push the subject, though, because I know how testy people can be about food, but I feel like I should have known.

Later, as we were sitting by the water, she told me all about the Black men that had been dipping into her DMs lately, said, “You know how they are, those kind of people.” I clarified, “Men?” But nope, she was ready for a racist tangent. She started whispering, constantly looking around her, so she definitely knew that what she was saying was wrong. I’ll admit, I didn’t say anything. I was shocked about what I was hearing, and I started looking for a way to excuse myself, call it a night.

“How’s your writing?” she asked when she was done.

My response to that question, for so long, has been automatic. Despite my college roommate showing me that my heart didn’t matter, despite my old friend stomping on what was left of it, despite what was about to come, despite all that had already been said that night, I started to tell her. I was working on a new idea, one overflowing with queer characters, that you may have seen called the researcher & the librarian. Freddie & Hugo were fresh in my heart, and I told her all about how excited I was for them. “There are these two women, too,” I said excitedly, “Hugo’s sister is in love with the upper class woman she works for, and they have the most beautiful romance.”

She cringed a little, and I frowned. I should have known, but when she said, “I can’t even imagine that. Why would you do that to yourself? It’s just asking for hurt and pain and awkwardness. I would never allow myself to be gay, to bring a woman home. Why bring that upon yourself?”

And just like that, the careful pieces of my heart that I’d stitched back together came apart in her hands.

I’m sure I would have come to this point eventually, even without all of it. Even if my roommate hadn’t shown me that because I had friends outside of her, that meant I no longer mattered to her, I would have realized that sharing my writing was a bad idea. Even if my friend hadn’t told me that everything I loved was absolute shit, I would have realized that baring my heart like that was going to end in pain. Even if my friend hadn’t said that the fears I already had and the person that I was didn’t belong, I would have realized that something as vulnerable as my writing should never, ever go anywhere but with the people I trust with myself, as well as my words.

Recently, that last friend reached out to me, trying to light a spark to the friendship I’d turned my back on. I gave her a bunch of one-word answers, very casual, no more information than I’d give anyone else. When she inevitably asked about my writing, I ignored her altogether.

It’s a little confusing, I know, because I talk about my writing on here all the time, and I’m not going to stop. But it’s different. There are three people that I actively talk to about my writing–Erin, Sara, and Chelsea. And they don’t even have to ask me, “How’s your writing going?” Because they already know. And not only do they know, they have all the nitty gritty details. They have everything that I used to spill to the whole world, but that I’ve realized should be kept as close as possible. The things that you see me posting about my writing here, and on other social media, is, honestly, the bare minimum. It’s the general, overall details that I don’t mind sharing. It’s Freddie & Hugo being chased through catacombs and loving each other in libraries. What it isn’t is the way that Freddie escapes from the catacombs, or the terrible fears that wrack him while he’s there. It’s not the deep, unrelenting uncertainty that plagues Hugo as he carefully picks his way through modern society. I like to talk about my writing, on a very surface level, with anyone who asks.

“What’s your book about?” I get this question all the time, and I’m always happy to tell them. “It’s about three witches, in the middle of Salem, who accidentally summon a demon.” There’s so much more to sister witches, but unless I trust you, that’s all you’ll get. And if you ask for more, it’s probably going to be, “Oh, you can read it when it’s published.”

Almost no one gets copies of my books anymore. After the time a friend printed it out after I’d specifically sent it as a Google doc and said that it needed to remain virtual, I’m done with sharing it. And yes, this is me 100% saying that I don’t trust people anymore. It’s hard to trust people with yourself, in general, but it’s even harder to trust them with the deepest parts of your heart. And though it may seem over the top and hella dramatic, would you have reacted differently? I mean, seriously, given even one of these instances, wouldn’t you have also pulled your heart back and said no thanks? There is only so much hatred spewed that one person can handle, and I’ve been shown, time and time again, that the thing I love matters the least by those I considered friends.

And so, unless you’re one of those chosen three, don’t ask me about my writing and expect an in-depth answer. I am no longer talking about my writing with people who I don’t trust implicitly. I will talk about writing, in general, literally any second of any day. Heck, I’ll even talk about my writing, to an extent, in the way that you usually see me talk about it here. But any more than that? Nah, I’m good.

Well, this was a pretty heavy post. I think I knew that it was going to be going in, but didn’t quite realize how heavy it was going to get, so I promise you that my next two posts this week will be very chill! We’re going to talk about my favorite witches and do a goals check-in, and I won’t drop any life bombs on you until at least the end of the month, but probably later than that.

Have you experienced something similar to this?
Having your writing dragged through the mud in order to hurt you?
How are you coping?

7 responses to “Why I’m No Longer Talking About Writing”

  1. Jai Lynn Avatar

    Mary I get what you are saying 100%. Honestly, I commend you for being brave enough to show your work in the first place to anyone. That is something I still struggle with. Writing is one of the most vulnerable and soul bearing things a person can do. And honestly, showing my work to anyone scares the shit out of me. Pardon my French, lol but it does. I know I’ll need to find critique partners one day but that thought scares me too. It’s human nature to want to belong and be afraid of being judged. I’m proud of you for being that person you were and showing your heart. This world isn’t the kindest place but that was a beautiful thing. But trust is hard to come by nowadays unfortunately. I’m glad you have three special people to show your writing too and I know one day you will be published and I can’t wait to pick up one of your books at a bookstore! ❤ Just keep doing you and share however much you feel comfortable sharing! Beautiful, soulful post ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Drover Avatar

      Thank you so much, Jai Lynn! It was honestly less bravery and more being a teenager and just desperately wanting to share everything with my friends. I’ve gotten a lot more withdrawn as an adult, and I still get nervous sharing my work now with my current critique partner! She just started a new book, and it’s left me pacing all morning, haha. I think it’s totally normal to be a bit terrified because you’re right–writing IS incredibly soul-bearing, and to share that with someone is to literally share a piece of yourself, one of the deepest and most beloved.

      At the same time, though, critique partners are truly a wonderful gift. Being able to talk out ideas with my CPs and get their invaluable feedback on how to make something better is just amazing. There’s truly nothing better than having writing friends.

      I can’t wait until we’re BOTH published and filling up shelves! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Poulami @ Daydreaming Books Avatar

    Hoping to read your book when it’s published. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Drover Avatar

      Thank you! Hopefully someday soon! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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