The Secret Life of Gone with the Wind

From this list of Gone with the Wind trivia:

“Though Mitchell spent the next decade working on characters and plot development, almost no one knew she was writing a book. She went to extreme lengths to hide her work from friends and family, including hurriedly throwing a rug over pages scattered on her living room floor once when company showed up unexpectedly.”

I don’t talk a lot about my writing with people who are non-writer friends. It can even feel weird if they ask “What’s your book about?” or “How’s the writing going?” Usually they ask out of genuine interest and enthusiasm, but it can be hard to explain the writing process to someone who hasn’t done it before. (Plus the day-to-day work  of me sitting at a computer isn’t glamorous.) And I don’t tend to show my work to people who are non-writer friends.

I think there’s a lot to be said for keeping your work private. Once it’s published and out in the world, it belongs to other people. It’s not yours anymore. But while you’re still writing, it’s yours in a very special way. Sharing that with lots of people can dilute your enthusiasm in some way.

Or maybe that’s just Margaret Mitchell and me. Do you tend to share your work with family and friends?

5 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Gone with the Wind

  1. I don’t share it a lot while I am writing. If a family member or a friend ask me what it is about, I tell them quickly and leave it at that. I don’t like to talk about it much until it is done. 🙂

    • Same here. Even if the friend/family member is genuinely enthusiastic or curious, I think it’s better to keep things light and quick. When it’s published they can read it.

  2. Once I’ve written it and edited it, I usually give it to my boyfriend, my sister, or my mom–the people that HAVE to read my work (and, honestly, enjoy it) because they love me–depending on who would probably be the most receptive audience. Ghost stories go to the boyfriend. YA and middle grade goes to my younger sister, etc. I give it to them at a stage where I’m ready to start submitting it to places, but I want a second opinion. They’re actually really really helpful (and honest. They have no qualms in telling me if an entire scene is just plain boring.)

    My best friends who are non-writers love reading my work…but not until it’s published. My college roommate has a collection of everything I’ve ever published and she passes it around to her family too. It’s so cute when I see her gram and she mentions how much she liked a short story of mine.

    I share it, but not until I’m ready.

    • I think that’s the ideal set-up. You need people to give you feedback, but they should be trusted and carefully selected readers. (Like knowing your boyfriend handles the ghost stories, your younger sister gets the YA, etc.) But I think your college roommate sounds so sweet, too!

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