Talking about my writing at work

Originally posted January 19, 2017.

(Just some ruminations about this hobby of mine.)

One of the more interesting things about writing gaining fiction is talking about my writing at work. I’m close enough with my coworkers that discussion of our hobbies happens, and I’m enthusiastic enough about my writing to talk about it. But I don’t want to reveal exactly what kind of writing I do, for obvious reasons, which makes these conversations tricky.

Deciding how much detail I go into when talking about my writing has become a balancing act. If I give them too much detail, they could fill in the blanks and figure out what I write. If I give them too little, it makes it look like I’m hiding something, which would ironically give me away. So I have to withhold enough information that they can’t figure it out, but give them enough that they don’t think I’m hiding anything from them.

Thankfully, I find that in talking to people about my writing (friends, coworkers, strangers, anyone really), as long as I tell them something, even something as generic as “I write short stories”, people generally won’t ask for more details than they’re given. One of my coworkers today pointed out the irony in the fact that I don’t like reading fiction, and yet that’s what I write. He also kept referring to “your genre” without getting more specific. Which means at some point, I told them I write fiction, and they didn’t ask for more beyond that.

I then went on to talk about how I just write what I feel I would enjoy reading. I then admitted that wasn’t entirely true, because the kind of stories I enjoy reading are pretty different from the kind I enjoy writing. I was alluding to the fact that I’m impatient and prefer reading stories that are very immediate and forthcoming with their gaining scenes, but my stories tend to be very plot driven, with a lot of exposition and character dynamics driving the gaining scenes. Of course, I didn’t tell them that much, and they didn’t pry beyond what I did tell them.

It’s kinda fun, really. I get to dance around this secret that really isn’t that hard to keep a secret. I get to toss out these little details to keep the conversation interesting while still trying to withhold enough information to keep my coworkers from putting it together. I get to play this game of being secretive without appearing like I’m being secretive.

And if one of my coworkers ends up grilling me for the kind of writing I do, or asks where they can read my writing, I’ll just tell them, “Sorry, you don’t have a high enough level of clearance to access that information.”

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