Tucked inside a care package for my cat, I found an article my mom tore out of a magazine for me, Don’t Give Up, Just Lie,with a note attached telling me to read it when I get frustrated. The article chronicles the struggles faced by Kathryn Stockett as she attempted to find representation for The Help, which received 60 rejections before finally getting signed. The article tells how Stockett finally turned to lying – she didn’t want to admit to her friends and husband that she was still retweaking the manuscript, still sending it out. She was ashamed by the rejections and didn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t want to be told that she should give up or find a new project. Instead of being honest about how she was spending her time, she would do things like say she was on a girls’ weekend when really she was holed up in a hotel writing.
But what about the opposite lie? What about when you say you worked on your writing when really you did nothing of the sort? What about when you don’t want to admit that you are stuck? Well, that’s the boat I’m in. Just about every night I’m asked “Did you get any writing done today?” or “What’d you do today?” I’ve found it’s easier to say “yes, a bit” or “I did a little writing” than it is to be honest and say “no. I’m stuck” and then get the look that reads “give up. Find something else to be passionate about.” Or worse yet, to be asked if I need help or to receive suggestions for new ideas.
Although my lies are the opposite of Stockett’s, I’m betting the looks she got when being honest, the looks that drove her to lying, are similar to the looks I get when I’m honest. But why should we have to be ashamed of our dreams? Why should we have to lie? Obviously Stockett was meant to be a writer and was meant to write The Help. She should not have been ashamed of the time she spent writing it. And me, well I shouldn’t be ashamed either. Sure, I may be stuck, I may find the editing process to be a huge bear, but I’m sure other writers before me and others that will follow me will find themselves in the same boat.
Do you feel obligated to lie about your writing? What lies do you tell?