I first started writing as a teenager. I was all right at it, I guess. But I didn’t identify myself as a writer. My English teacher practically had to arm wrestle me to get me to submit anything for the school’s literary magazine. I didn’t write poetry, I didn’t write short stories. I didn’t hang out wearing black, going to readings, or smoking cigarettes. I wrote books. I still have looseleaf binders full of novels written longhand.
Ironically, the four brothers who appear in Elemental originally appeared in the first novel I wrote in high school. Imagine carrying four teenage boys around in your head for almost two decades.
That sounds kind of gross.
When I was 19, I landed an agent. Now this was when the internet was in its infancy. I landed an agent through sheer luck. Some guy on a writing board on AOL was like, “A friend of a friend is starting a literary agency, and I think he’d like your stuff.”
Right now, I want to go shake that nineteen-year-old Brigid and say, “YOU HAD AN INTRO TO AN AGENT. YOU FREAK.”
Then, I was like, “Huh. ‘Kay.”
So that intro turned into a real agent, and my book went out to publishers. It didn’t sell. I let the agent relationship peter out into nothing.
Even then, even when my book was on submission, I didn’t tell people I was a writer.
Years later, when I was married and started looking into this writing gig for real, I still didn’t tell anyone I was a writer. They say you shouldn’t talk about it until you have a book deal.
I don’t know who “they” are, but they’re right.
I remember getting my first partial request, and telling a coworker. He told another coworker, and then half the office knew.
And here’s the problem with that: publishing takes a long time. People were all excited for me at first, but then I didn’t land an agent, and I just felt embarrassed. When people don’t know how much time and energy it takes, they seriously don’t know. When I eventually landed the amazing Tamar, I told my best friend I’d finally found a literary agent. She said, “Why is that a big deal?”
She honestly thought that finding a literary agent was as simple as opening up the yellow pages and throwing a dart at a name.
Even after I had an agent, I still didn’t identify myself as a writer. Still!
And now I have a book deal.
Is the time now? Can I tell people I’m a writer? When people ask me what I do, I still rattle off my regular job. My day job.
Do I wait for the book to come out? Do I wait for the second book to come out?
Where are the industry blogs about these life altering questions?
Do you guys identify as writers? When did you start? When will you start?