Contents May Have Shifted
Like many writers, I haven’t talked much about “the writing,” as I call it. Some family members know. Some co-workers know. (They know because how could I not share the excitement of signing with Talbot Fortune Agency three weeks before I left the job I’d held for more than 25 years?) Some neighbors here in town know. And that’s because my hubby is constantly asked when out and about, “what’s Donna doing these days?” He doesn’t think about it like I do. He simply tells them, “oh, she’s been doing a bit of writing.”
Despite all who did know, many did not. Like my book club, for one.
I’ve been a member of The Thursday Afternoon Book Club for more than a decade. I love this group of ladies. And the book club itself, which holds the distinguished honor of being one of the oldest around, has a format that’s relaxing (unless you’re the one giving the program!) and friendly. Founded in 1910, and still going strong one hundred and four years later, I was proud to have the centennial celebration at my house in 2010. We added a few touches to our dress that day – hats. We served a similar menu as to what the women in 1910 would have served. Salad. This is actually why they decided to meet on Thursdays when it first started. The train delivered lettuce and because it was harder to keep produce fresh back then, serving it quickly was key. Considered a specialty, nothing was nicer than for a hostess to serve guests a fresh salad.
Here are a couple photos from the Centennial celebration:
Anyway, we had our monthly meeting last Thursday. I hadn’t planned on bringing up the post I put out on Facebook about Book-Hive and the AOTM thing. Towards the close of the meeting though, someone I’m friends with on the site said, “Did you write a book?” All heads turned my way. The moment of truth. It’s not as if I had a book published and this was like a reading, still, it was a moment when a group of people were waiting for me to begin to talk about my book. To answer questions. Especially this one:
What’s it about?
We’re all familiar with the statement “Contents May Have Shifted,” on packages of food like cereal, boxed dry goods, or bags of snacks – like potato chips, for instance. You buy a bag and when you open it and look inside, you may think you’ve been short-changed. It doesn’t look like it’s supposed to. Shouldn’t the bag have more in it than that? To expound further, my book club loves Jan Karon. I’ve mentioned before that I felt the latest WIP isn’t a book club story. Every time I met with them, I sort of wondered, what would they think of me if they knew I’d written a story about illegal drugs, liquor, prostitution and murder? That it has the f bomb tossed out over 100 times in approximately 340 pages. When they all looked at me after the initial question, all this zipped through my head.
And when that ultimate question came up, “so what’s it about,” I was worried what they’d think of me. Would they think they really hadn’t known me all these years? That I wasn’t who I appeared to be? Like they’d expected this one thing, because hey, I still look like I’ve always looked (older, but close enough), and suddenly, the content of who I am had now shifted, giving them less of the person they’d come to know?
I think I sort of cringed. I said, “Well, it’s not a book club book.” They laughed good naturedly. And persisted, “what’s it about?” So, I told them. And…, they were excited. And hopeful. For me. One lady is a Presbyterian minister. She came up to me afterwards, and said, “Oh I love a good mystery.” I was still overwhelmed by yapping about it for about twenty minutes, and said, “I thought you all might think I had horns hidden under my hair somewhere.” And she was like, “Oh, it’s just about life, that’s all that is.”
I realized then how crazy it had been to worry, not only about these ladies, but, that I might be judged as lacking in character somehow. That my “contents,” would somehow shift in their eyes because of my work. It’s just…work. It’s what I do. Think about it, shouldn’t we be proud? Shouldn’t we own it?
How do you feel about sharing your work?