It’s A Dilemma…

Sometimes I struggle with a bit of a dilemma. I’m not good at interpreting the subtleties of social interactions, so I’m never quite sure whether people are genuinely glad to see me or just being polite. It doesn’t help that I live in Canada, where we’re polite to even idiots and assholes. I never know which of those I am.

That makes reconnecting with long-lost acquaintances an iffy proposition. Any time I send out a friend request or a ‘let’s keep in touch’ note, I’m reminded of the old saying: “The ones you hope you’ll never hear from again are the ones who never lose your number.”

I was thinking of that the other day while I was writing the letter to go in our Christmas cards. Normal people probably don’t worry about stuff like this, but ever since I became a writer I’ve been cautious about mentioning my career. I never know how people will react.

When I was an interior designer (*shudders*) or a draftsperson or a computer geek, people outside my profession usually responded one of two ways when I told them what I did for a living: They either nodded and changed the subject to something that actually interested them, or they pounced on me and tried to get free services.

But when I say I’m a fiction writer, the reactions are alarmingly varied. I still get “Ho-hum; well, how about that weather we’re having?” That’s okay.

The ‘pounce’ reaction translates to “Hey, I have a great idea for a novel! I’ll give you a ten-second snapshot of my idea, and you can spend the next six solid months sweating blood while you plan it, write it, edit it, proof it, and publish it; and then we can share the profits 50/50!”

Um… no.

It’s the third type of reaction that makes me reticent about dropping the ‘writer’ bombshell: Their eyes dilate and they break out in a fine dew of perspiration while they back away in squeamish embarrassment as though they’d just caught me smiling and humming with my hand down my pants.

Or worse, their eyes dilate and they start sweating, but they’re coming at me as if they’re hoping I’ll start smiling and humming with my hand down my pants. Then they whisper, “Do you write porn?”

It’s a fair question; it’s just that sweaty wide-eyed people with no sense of personal space really creep me out…

Anyhow, back to the Christmas cards. This year I decided to reconnect with my Grade 12 English teacher. He was a very cool guy back in 1982, and I’ve always wondered how things turned out for him. I also owe him a debt of gratitude for convincing me that English class wasn’t a dead loss, and for having the courage to share his love for poetry with a bunch of hormone-ridden country-bumpkin teenagers.

So I sent him a card, and when he graciously responded I wrote him an email thanking him for laying the groundwork for my writing career.  It should’ve been a pleasant, stress-free interaction, right?

But all the while, I was visualizing this:

everything I know

(That wasn’t how he reacted… Or maybe he was just too polite to show it…  You see my dilemma?)

P.S. Thanks, Mr. C. You’re still a very cool guy!

85 thoughts on “It’s A Dilemma…

  1. Like Sue and Carrie above, I’ll bet your ex-teacher was happy to get the card. I’m not a writer myself, sadly, but I am a blogger and I’ve managed to keep it secret from almost all but my immediate family members since I started. This is not from social embarrassment so much as worries that I’ll become unable to write about certain topics (e.g. my thrilling and rewarding job) without fear of legal action.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the discussion here. I’ve always been good with faces but names were just a complete loss with me. For some reason people remember my face AND my name and it’s always surprised me. I figured what the heck is so memorable about me anyway that a person from years ago would come up and call my name and remember me, while I stand there telling myself that “damn, her/his face is so familiar….where do I know this person from?” LOL. My family and I always moved around so much that most people, teachers, neighbors etc. just remain a passing blur. I did have 3 teachers in my entire school life that I will remember always. An English Lit. teacher that made reading come alive for me. She didn’t just talk about the classics, she talked about ALL genres. Telling us that each and every type of book had a life of its own and not only should we not just read it, but “embrace” the life and story it told. I mean this woman was a total addict when it came to reading and understanding what the story was. She said that even if a story is not good, we should read between the lines because the writer may not have been “able” to convey his/her thoughts entirely. LOL She covered everything, romance, fiction, mystery, thrillers, non-fiction, you name it, she taught it. My next teacher was a World History teacher. That man loved history so much he even had burly football players on the edge of their seats while he recounted Napoleons battles! Seriously, he actually “taught” the subject. My last one was not a full teacher of a class, but a home room teacher. He was Mexican-American, last name Murrieta, a direct descendent of Joaquin Murrieta, the Robin Hood of Mexico! LOL He was a fantastic teacher of California/Mexico history and was not biased one way or the other. He was thorough and made it come alive.
    Outside of those three, I could care less about the others. Most were there to collect the paychecks and take attendance. I don’t miss them at all.
    I met one person that said they were a writer. Or they admitted they were one, haha. I didn’t think about it that much, I just said “oh, how neat! What kind do you write?” He just said “Oh, just some Western cowboy stuff.” I said “That’s cool, want some coffee?” Now I know why he laughed out loud and said “Yes!”
    I write too. Mostly poems, short stories. Just personal stuff that wouldn’t probably mean much to anyone else. People that write for mostly themselves do it from deep inside. Places from their soul that would only mean things to themselves alone. I was at work one day and had jotted down “My Midnight Rose” on a notepad. The phone rang, my boss came into my office and all of a sudden I had put the phone on hold, held my finger up to my boss to tell him to wait a minute, and I started writing like crazy on my notepad. HA! The rest of the short poem came to me and I had to get it written down or I’d lose it. I finished it, finished the phone call and then told my boss, “O.K., what?” He looked at me, shook his head and said “I don’t remember what the hell I came in here for! When you’re not busy would you MIND calling my dentist?”
    I do have a book that I’ve been working on for a long time. I can’t finish it just yet as it covers things that can be told only later. I also have to have complete quiet when I work on that one and it’s hard to get that right now. Retired, not a lot of alone time to work with.
    AND, I have rambled on here waaaay too long and didn’t mean to do that. I do so enjoy all the posts tho’. Your company here are so literate and interesting it’s just a pleasure to browse and learn from all.
    Can’t wait for #11, the progress is looking good!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, teachers like your ‘top 3’ are worth their weight in gold! It’s too bad there are so many duds, though. I had a couple like that, too, and I always wondered whether they started their careers excited and motivated but had all the life squeezed out of them by the system, or whether they were just apathetic from the start.

      That’s so cool that you’re a writer, too! Often the things that you write solely for yourself are the works that end up being most poignant and meaningful, so don’t sell yourself short with ‘just personal stuff’. And you’re absolutely right about paying attention to the muse regardless of the time and place – sometimes it just won’t wait! Hubby has gotten used to me zoning out without warning or jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to write something down. We writers are an odd bunch! 😉

      (And you’re always welcome to ramble here – that’s what makes my comments section so interesting!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess l need to mention my favorite teacher, Mr. Seppola. At first glance I’d expect him to be the worst teacher ever. He was short, round, with a very red face and a short blond crewcut in the early years of the Beatles. His method of dealing with hormone-poisoned 7th graders was to fling whatever tool was in his hand at the offending miscreant. Usually he had markers in his hand since he loved using an overhead projector. He taught math and by this time, I was hopelessly behind my peers, having lost my way in 3rd grade and never managing to catch up.
        At the time, I blamed it on moving to a new school district mid-year and then losing two more teachers to maternity leave and recognizing that those 3 new teachers didn’t really want to explain the math to me yet again, so I’d lie and say I “got” it. Every summer meant taking math in summer school so I never got held back due to math, but the summer school teachers were barely in the classroom long enough to take attendance, hand out worksheets, and disappear until dismissal time. I’m now convinced that I suffered from a learning disability similar to dislexia but one that affects math rather than reading. It is called discalculai, I think. If you have this issue, you have great difficulty with algebra, telling time, remembering dates, and orienting in unfamiliar territory. All but the last are true for me.
        But back to “hothead” Seppala. At one point he beaned me in the head while aiming at a kid behind me, and he was so apologetic it surprised me. I soon noticed a glint in his eye whenever he was dealing with inattentive or misbehaving students. He was never really mad- it was all an act designed to keep everyone alert. I was used to adults who had tempers, but had never noticed an adult pretending to be angry. It was a revelation. I lost all fear of him and when he stuck me in with the group of kids who “got it,” I brought his error to his attention. He said, “No, you are a very intelligent girl who will take algebra and geometry in high school, not basic math, and you will go to college.” Under his help, my grades went from D- and Fs to C-. I was never so proud of such a low grade. I did about the same or somewhat better in algebra, but lucked out with another twinkly-eyed teacher for geometry, where I was thrilled to get Bs and an A-. Geometry is a math that makes total sense to the artistic mind.
        I clued my younger siblings to watch for that twinkle in Mr. Seppala’s eye and that he is never truly angry, and it helped them too. I wrote a note and sent it to Mr. Seppala to thank him for turning my math life around and for reducing some of my fear of adults too. I’m so thankful that I did it then because he died very soon afterwards.
        Such a loss! He died still in his 30s. The world was robbed of a great teacher’s best years.

        Liked by 2 people

        • How lucky that you wrote your note when you did! We just never know when our chances might run out. And how lucky you were to have Mr. Seppala and your geometry teacher! I loved geometry, too, but I guess that’s not surprising since I loved math in general. Still do – it’s one of the few things in life where there’s a ‘right’ answer! 😉

          I had a few teachers with good throwing arms, too, but I never identified the twinkle in their eyes… possibly because there wasn’t one. Chalk was the projectile of choice, and it was usually followed by “Out in the hall!” Going out in the hall with a teacher was always bad news – usually followed by the bang of a body up against the lockers. That’d cause a lawsuit these days, and it probably wasn’t a great learning environment then, but we sure as hell behaved ourselves whether we learned anything or not.

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          • I went to a Jr./Sr. high school in So. Calif., actually got to go for 3 whole years before moving. Problem was that in those days you did have “neighborhood” schools. This one, Lomita, CA. was considered the “school of last resort”. If you were “sent” to this school and couldn’t make it, or learn to conform, you went straight to the California Youth Authority. My luck, I lived within a half mile radius. I knew 6 different ways to get to and from school. Some took me about 2 miles to get around but I did it, every day. Talk about a body being slammed against lockers? This was also everyday. I walked into the girls bathroom one day and watched as a 7th grader was overdosing on heroin, she slid down the wall, convulsing and foaming at the mouth. The male teachers all carried golf clubs in their cars whether they golfed or not. I watched my home room teacher (yep, Mr. Murrieta) pin 2 gang members against a chain link fence, by the throats! Kids that like to brag about how “tough” they are today wouldn’t have lasted 2 days tops at that school. Myself and a small bunch of us “squirrels” were left alone. They gave that name to the ones that were relatively harmless to them. LOL We had drug raids at the school regularly. It was nothing new to come to school, see the police wagons out front and report to our lockers. We knew the drill. Tables were set up, we emptied the lockers, our purses and then our pockets. No mention of civil rights or liberties here, no right to privacy talked about. It was standard procedure. Some experiences from then will wind up in the “book”. The last year I survived there the districts were changed around some and the gangs weren’t sent there anymore. They went straight to jail or prison. The name of the school changed too, I guess they thought the stigma would go away with the name. It didn’t. As the old saying goes, “too many knew too much and knew where the bodies were buried!”

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yikes! After surviving that school, you must have been capable of facing just about anything without flinching. I can’t imagine how you managed to learn anything when you had to be constantly alert for danger. It must have been a huge relief (and a huge adjustment) to finally move to a different school after three years of that.

              Liked by 1 person

              • It was a relief to get away from the “war zone”. Seeing gangs from opposing schools line up on each side of the street right before the final bell rang put a whole new meaning to stealth mode. We moved to No. California, Richmond. Right close to Oakland. In the late 50’s, early 60’s, Calif. was a strange/fun/weird place to be. Different location, similar problems just not quite so bad. That was where I had the best World History teacher I spoke about. The English Lit. teacher was left behind in Lomita, in So. Calif. as was Mr. Murrieta. You learn to pick your battles and your bunkers and grab what you can in the middle to hold close to your heart. I remember the good ones and the bad ones and the ones that accepted me as a friend and/or a confidant no matter what their rap sheet said of them. They usually felt safe with what I knew or saw. For some reason I always felt like I was on the outside looking in anyway. I went to the 10th and 11th grades there and then moved back to So. Calif. to Redondo Beach and graduated there. So different as far as scenery went, ocean about 2 blocks from the school and the “bad kids” drove Corvettes and BMW’s and had Gold Cards. Calif. was so big they had 2 separate school systems. In No. Cal. I had to have something like 270 credits to graduate. When I left I had 260, just 10 shy which I would have gotten in my Sr. year. In So. Cal. I only had to have 250 credits. I already had 10 more than I needed but I didn’t have Civics course! I had to take the entire school year of dead classes (just fill in crap like “office study”, “art classes” “choir”, just to fit in that Civics class. I graduated finally and when I realized that school days were over, real life was out there, I took a deep breath and said to myself “Well, here ya’ go kid. Try to do it right.” I hope I have to some extent, if not, well, maybe I’ll get a so over? LOL

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      • Having to move so much prevented me from having long term childhood friends altho’ there are a few that I can recall. My biggest regret concerning our moves was leaving those teachers! We moved 3 times, to 3 different states during one school year and I’m still not certain my transcripts ever caught up with us. I know I took an awful lot of “placement” tests. I do believe that some teachers are born to it. They have the fire that it takes to bring it alive. If there is no spark the student will never catch that fire and go with it. I had several aunts that were teachers so I never stood a chance at goofing off. I was forever being told to “never use a word that you cannot spell, know the meaning of and how to use properly.” Aaaargh! For a long time it was hard for me to form and complete a sentence without interruption, “What was that word? What is the meaning?” It’s a wonder I didn’t have a stutter.
        Thank you for the encouragement too. I know someday my daughter will “inherit” my writings and she will, no doubt, laugh, cry, and most likely say “Wow, Mom, seriously?” LOL She can then do with them what she will.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I could’ve used a few sessions with your aunts. I was (and am) a voracious reader, and as a kid I was usually reading something far beyond my ‘reading level’. I was notorious for discovering a new word in a book, sounding it out as best I could, inferring its meaning from the text around it, and then proudly using it whenever possible without ever verifying my facts. (“Dictionary? We don’t need no stinkin’ dictionary!”) Needless to say, the results were sometimes… erm… interesting. You’d think I’d have learned after the first time… 😉

          Your writings will be a precious legacy for your daughter – she’s a lucky girl!

          Liked by 1 person

      • Hey there Diane, I meant to leave my reply to you, right here, but I had a glitch with this ancient PC of mine and had to resign in. In the process it wound up being left as a reply to el Tea. While I “liked” el Tea’s post, after I did the resign my response wound up as a reply there. Ah well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sometimes WordPress gets a little frisky with the comment placement – I’m never quite sure where my responses are going to end up, either!

          And don’t worry about the ‘proper’ spelling here – we’ll just call it a typo. 🙂 These days with everybody entering comments from their phones, you never quite know what you’re going to get.

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  3. I think that it must be a lot of fun living in side your head. Lol . My guess would be they are more than delighted to see or hear from sounds as if you are never boring. And if that is the case, than maybe you should touch base with them more often to help them not to take them selves to sirresly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother was a teacher for over forty years and she LOVES to see former students and is always tickled pink if they remember her fondly. Of course, I guess those are the only ones who actually stop to talk to her … no one is going to come up to an eighty-something 4’10” white-haired lady and start berating her … but, anyway, what I was getting at was that I imagine your former teacher was really pleased to get your card and email. I send thank you notes for things now and then, not knowing exactly how the recipient will react, but I figure I’ve done my part in appreciating them. If they think it’s weird, that’s not my problem; I feel good inside 🙂

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    • That’s a great attitude! I’m never sure how people will react, either, but I figure what the hell; it might make their day, and even if it doesn’t, at least it shouldn’t spoil their day. In theory, anyway. 🙂

      I’d like to think nobody would berate an eighty-something lady, too, but there are some truly mean-spirited people in the world. I’m glad she hasn’t encountered any of them (and I hope she never does).

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  5. And speaking of running into former teachers, years ago we moved to a tiny little town and found that the English teacher who taught 11th grade at a school I’d attended many years prior had retired there.

    Ran into her at the post office one day and told her how much I appreciated her, etc. She said, “Hmph. Looks like you might have grown up. I’d have lost a lot of money on that wager. Excuse me.” Then she walked around me and went her way.

    I steered clear of her after that. My school years were not the idyllic frolic that some enjoyed. Just ask her. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nope, just left me standing there in my own bloody footprints. Only lived in that town and attended that school a year and was glad to to move.

        Once, two buddies and I went over to a teacher’s house there to pick up a homework assignment. We were invited, mind you. She was in her early twenties, single, and a total babe, we thought. While we were there, a key rattled in the back door, and one of the coaches walked in. He was as surprised as we were. The young lady blushed purple. The coach said, “Oh, what the hell,” walked into her kitchen, grabbed a beer and a can opener (this was fifty years ago, after all), and went into her bedroom and closed the door behind him. The coach was married, or was for a little while thereafter.

        Can’t speak for my two buddies, but this the first time I’ve ever mentioned it.

        He called out behind himself as the door closed, “Don’t be long, honey. It’s been a long day.”

        Just another day in a tiny little town out in the middle of nowhere.


          • Now that I think of it, this guy was one of the coaches who pestered me endlessly to play football instead of playing in ‘that candy-ass band.’ I worked hard after school and on the weekends, had for years, and I was a healthy specimen, if I say so myself. Six feet tall, 190-ish pounds, and strong as a freakin’ ox.

            I’d already been through all that at the high school in the town we’d just moved from, and the hassle was wearing thin. The coach had gotten to the point that he would accost me in the halls between classes in front of all the other students about how I must be a sissy if I’d rather be in the band than on his football team.

            Remember, this here is Texas, and high school football is stronger than most religions around here. The term ‘radicalized’ applied to parents of school kids in Texas long before it found any use at all elsewhere.

            So, in front of the same crowd one day I replied, “Yes, coach, you and your punk football team need me desperately, that’s true. But why would I want to be around a bunch of losers like you when I can be part of a strong, award-winning band instead? Now, if you EVER say another word to me about what a SISSY I AM or CALL ME ANY OTHER NAMES OR PUT YOUR HANDS ON ME AGAIN, I will personally BREAK YOU IN HALF! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M TELLING YOU!!!”

            The guy probably could have torn my arms off, but by this time I was red-faced and almost screaming. Some was mere hubris and attitude, but some was real anger, too. I wanted to embarrass the guy enough that he would leave me alone. Actually, I embarrassed the crap out of him, and I hardly ever laid eyes on him again…until right after he turned the key.

            I’m sure he thought I blew the whistle on him, but I really have never mentioned it until now.

            Did I mention I’ve never had much use for middle-school or high-school football coaches? Parasites, the lot of ’em.

            Liked by 1 person

            • The coach sounds awful, I remember in high school well not just high school the PE department wanted me on the netball team, I resisted I’m 6ft1, but I hate sports.
              They caught me smoking and made me do the cross country run, I did better the first time when I had sneaky ciggies on the way round. They caught me and made me do it again without ciggies and I was an epic fail hehe
              Mind I was good at swimming but by this time they had given up and left me alone, I could swim the length of the pool under water without coming up for air so smoking was good for something

              Liked by 2 people

            • I guess we were lucky in that we were such a tiny school (200 kids total enrolled in kindergarten to Grade 12) that we didn’t attract the super-competitive-coach types. I think they must be the bullies of previous school years who’ve grown up to perpetuate the cycle, and it’s sad that the only thing they understand is when somebody stands up to them and threatens them in a language they understand. As my dad used to put it, “Talk to them by hand.”

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Diane, my English teacher, Mr B, looks exactly like yours… same hair, same beard. Maybe they’re long lost relatives, stranded on different continents, but found a common goal in teaching. One day, fate steps in, and they find themselves on a third continent, but… how about you finishing the story and we share it 50/50? Hehehe! Couldn’t resist! He does look like my teacher though.
    I’m not exactly a writer (yet!) but when I tell folk I write I receive the same blank look every time, with the odd ‘uh er…’ thrown in. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I think back then the beard/hair combo was a pretty common look, but who knows? Maybe they were separated at birth… and I have the perfect ending for the story: “And they lived happily ever after!” How much do you think we can get for it? (When Hollywood calls I’ll be sure to let you know.)

      And hey, you’re a blog-writer, so that’s gotta count for something. It’s probably only good for the same awkwardness as the rest of us, but still, it’s something… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t think I’d admit to being a writer either, I’m not OK I have written stuff but I’m proud to say I write porn.

    Diane, you could be classed as a porn writer! Don’t forget in this book you said you had included alien porn hehe.

    I’ve never had anything published and I doubt I ever will, I write for me. I try to write anything but porn but I guess that’s just me a lil bit naughty but nice

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, I did write a bit of alien porn for Book 11. It’s a whole new career opportunity for me! 😉

      And I’m glad you write ‘for you’. That’s the most enjoyable way to write – completely uncensored by anyone else’s opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup never say never.
        I tried to do a murder mystery last year and found myself on page 4 going down that all familiar track so I stopped.
        My mum keeps telling me with all I know about jewellery and gem stones I should write something about that, I’m resisting until I can actually get some sort of an idea going.

        The first thing I wrote was an account of something that happened to me as aa young almost teen, OK I was 11. I wrote down an account of the rape (I’m fine it was a long time ago 26yrs) it turned into a bloomin porn epic 32 chapters and I just stopped couldn’t finish it although the novel didn’t have much left of the original 3page account. I guess as I started down that road in my teens its easier

        I did it again I over shared but hell that’s me, I’m an open book hehe open book and your all writers

        Sorry so lame

        Liked by 3 people

                • Hey Jono and Glbryant,
                  In my experience, it is the lack of faith in yourself and in your own talent, imagination and creativity that is the most dabilititating factor in one’s success, especially for putting yourself out there and finding the working partnerships necessary to place your work into the public eye. For me that is gallery representation, and for you writers it would be publishers. It does take time to develope a mastery of the skills necessary to show your ideas off in the best light, but once the skills are acquired, the self-doubt that follows is a career-killer.
                  My advice is to find some people wise enough to know the difference between quality work and rubbish and get their opinion from time to time. I’m riding on a high just now because I just got an infusion of encouragement from a very tough critic, a friend of mine who told me that she was thinking that no art wowed her any more and she was thinking there was something wrong with her to not find any interesting art for so long. That is, until I sent her a batch of images of my art and she was blown away by it. Such encouragement will propel me to approach the gallery owners I need to partner with to sell my wares.
                  Although our mode of creative expression is different, I find everyone’s contributions on this blog to be inspirational too. Thanks to you all and to you, especially, Diane.

                  Liked by 3 people

                  • What a fabulous boost to your confidence, and well-deserved I’m sure! Thank you for your kind words, and for your thoughtful comments on my blog – I’m incredibly lucky to have such an intelligent and considerate ‘family’ of commenters! 🙂

                    Liked by 1 person

        • Karen, I’m so sorry you went through such a horrible experience, especially at such a young age. I hope you truly are fine, and that you abandoned your novel because it helped you work through the experience and leave it behind you (as much as that’s possible).

          And you’re not lame at all! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m good honestly, it is part of what made me who I am today.

            It’s still on my pc, it’s on a flash drive these days but started out on a floppy disc. I still have that too though Ihad to buy an external floppy drive.

            One of these days I might finish it, and all the others I’ve started

            Hugs to all

            Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve been dreading the whole thing about introducing myself as a writer (provided I ever complete anything much less actually get anything published). That’s it. I’m taking a gnomb day ploom!

    And your progreth doethn’t thuck at all! You tho rock!


  9. I bet your English teacher was thrilled! I can’t thinking teaching high school English is an easy job. To know that a student made it into a successful career must be one of the most rewarding things!
    I get you though, of course on my much smaller scale. I rarely tell people I have a blog. Or if I do I talk about it as a little blog, like something one might want to pat on the head. Weird since I am such an extrovert.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s funny – I never realized extroverts would have the same problem! You can definitely be proud of your blog – it’s always interesting and funny, and you have tons of loyal followers.

      And I have immense respect for teachers to start with, but I can’t even imagine the courage it took for a young male teacher to share his poetry with a classroom full of teenagers. ‘Better him than me’, is all I can say!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I am right there with you. My “coming out” as an artist happened in high school, so my social circle was somewhat limited.
    Response 1: “Do you know [Artist A]? ” Since that is the only other living artist they know of, and you must know him/her. Or they proudly declare that their Aunt Louise is so good at painting that she paints every brick on the wall or every strand of fur on the cat or dog.
    Response 2: “Will you paint Jesus as The Good Shepherd for me?” At that time, it was the equivalent to asking me to devote a full year of every minute of my spare time to painting what could be picked up in a book and Bible store for a nominal amount. I politely declined.
    And from my parent’s best friend’s wife, a woman I still admire and respect, “Will you copy this (renowned painting from the late 1500’s) for my husband’s birthday? I took a photo of it when we were all traveling in Europe together. His next birthday is almost a year away.”
    She handed me a snapshot with a giant flash dead center in the photo with just enough image remaining in the periphery that I could identify the artist, which, of course, was not my taste at all. Rather than politely declining, I asked for her to figure out which museum housed the painting and to send away for a slide or a poster since the snapshot was clearly not usable. She said she would, but I never heard from her until much later in the year. She had not remembered that she had legwork to do before further discussion or painting began. She had to shop elsewhere for her gift.
    Response 3 is a variant on your porn fans with glazed eyes. All artists must be bohemians who drink a lot and use any and all street drugs and live the free sex lifestyle. I even got this from a childhood friend of the family who had become a blues musician and should have known better.
    If writers are lousy at self-promotion, visual artists are equally bad. It is interesting that our creative processes have similarities as well as our social interactions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yikes, those responses are just as bad! Oh, and I bet you also get the old, “Do this for us for free. It’s a great opportunity for you because you’ll get valuable ‘visibility’!” Nice try, guys.

      Well played with the photo debacle, by the way! It’s amazing how many annoying things just quietly go away if you ignore them long enough. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I feel for you. While I’m perfectly happy to discuss my writing/books with any stranger I can corner, I am surprisingly reluctant to talk about my career with people (teachers, school chums, etc.) who “knew me when.” It seems too much like getting naked in front of them. Weird, I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m loving these introvert reactions to responses of what one does for a living. I’m also impressed (and a wee bit jealous) that your teacher remembered and answered you! I tracked down my 5th grade teacher who had a HUGE impact on the person I became and of course he had no idea who I was … he was nice, appreciative that I found him to thank him but I was just one of many little faces to him. I know – call the wahmbulance. And yes, I *would* like some cheese with that whine!

    By the way, I was quite disappointed to learn the bearded dude in your drawing was your teacher. I thought it was Hellhound! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, that’s sad about your 5th grade teacher! (But I got a great giggle out of the ‘wahmbulance’!) I wondered if mine would remember me, but I guess that’s the advantage to going to school out in the sticks – we had a small class and I think we were his first year of teaching, so we were maybe a little more memorable than the hundreds of other kids he taught before he retired.

      P.S. I’d like to think Hellhound would have a little more charitable response… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well, better writing it than acting it, I suppose. My cousin got a law degree from U of S and moved to BC. She says she told the people in small town Sask where she was from that she had a job playing piano in a whore house as it would be better received than “lawyer”.
    Your English teacher would have been pleased no end, trust me. So many kids never even say thank you.
    Christmas letters are wonderful. If yours is for general distribution, please email me a copy. I will return the favour when I get mine written.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I imagine your former teacher was thrilled to get your card. Having someone let us know we made a difference in their life is always a welcome treat.

    I haven’t had the writer conversation much, because I still don’t bring it up. The hubs and I attended an annual event at our hospital not long ago (a holiday tree festival with a dessert table to die for), and I was caught off guard when someone asked me about my writing. Considering I’d just released a book, I should have been a better promoter than I was. But I felt ill at ease talking about my book and my writing and downplayed everything, quickly moving on to a new topic. Odd reaction but probably one familiar to other writers too. It’s easy to talk about our writing in our online worlds where many of us share the same interest. Much more difficult in ‘real’ life.

    Liked by 2 people

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