More Unmentionables

People ask, "What have you been doing this summer?"

And when I respond, "Working on a manuscript," no one says a thing, and we immediately move on to other topics and later I wonder if I actually mentioned it or just imagined it.

Is it the rather awkward way I say it or is there something inherently embarrassing about working on a manuscript?  Is it something about Wisconsin, or more universal?

Is it something about the act of expression or something about commenting on your own creative endeavors that is off-putting?

Why in a culture that celebrates artists who aggressively promote their work, is it seen as unseemly and self-indulgent to do so?

Or is it just me?

Is it that no one knows what to say?  I might ask:

What kind of manuscript?
Is it your first?
Tell me about it.

Perhaps knowing my work, they feel embarrassed for me, like the people who walked by while I was playing banjo to one sleeping bum in the parklet.

Why will a blog post get zero likes, but a photo of a cat get dozens?

So when people ask about what I've been up to this summer, rather than mention the manuscript, I answer, "Painting the house," which is much easier to talk about.

What color?
The whole thing?
By yourself? 
Ever done that before?
Ever consider siding?


  1. For whatever it's worth, I may skip the NY Times, the New Yorker, mybestfriend'sblog, but I never skip yours. Loved this little bittersweet reality piece. By the way, have you read BIG MAGIC? I always think of you when I reread it. Doing art for the fun of it—even when that art is hard, like writing.

    1. That's worth a whole lot, Barbara! Thanks so much for reading and for letting me know that you do! I'll check out Big Magic.

  2. ha, yes to this. i'm not sure which is worse, mentioning i write books or that i teach gender studies. both often get met with "oh."

    1. Helen, Any time you want to talk writing and gender studies, i'm your gal!

      Thanks for reading!