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Bunco or Bunk?

I had every intention of continuing our ode to spring and the plants we put in the ground to honor the season, but time slipped away before I could snap pics of my new pots and the pretty flowers they contain, so I’m scratching the gardening post (some of you are rejoicing; others are disappointed we don’t get to gab about green things) and going with something not quite so organic. Even though I did insert a pic of Lady and the Tramp from Epcots’ Garden Festival.

Just so you get where I’m coming from, let me say I have a very tight deadline and need over 17,000 words by next Friday to complete my book – my Christmas book – so it’s really hard to think cashmere scarves and twinkle lights when I’m eyeing strapless sundressess and the bottle of  sunscreen sitting in the bathroom winking at me when I go by to remind me it’s almost time to put on the swimsuit (It doesn’t really wink – just trying out my skills in personification). But every day I get closer and closer to my deadline and closer and closer to a summer where I will not have as much time to loll about on a beach chair at the pool because I have more books to write. Seven more on my contract to be exact. So as I sit in this chair I feel a little claustrophic, and as I read about people frolicking at RT and other conferences, I feel extreme jealousy that everyone is out having fun, doing booksigning and posing with cover models, while I’m sitting her on my too white butt churning out lines about Christmas carols and shiny boxes with giant bows.

So when my neighbor asked me to sub in at Bunco down the street, I played mother of the year, skipping my boys’ baseball games, pouring a glass of wine and hopping into the golfcart to head down for some dice rolling and some time to forget about writing.

But thing was….I couldn’t.

Well, not so much the actual writing. It was more the fact I couldn’t forget I’m a writer.

Know what? Writing has changed me a lot. It’s very strange, but it has. I’m super observant and not very content to carry on conversations about ballet, school testing and shopping. Once I was good with it. That was my world – one of monograms, recipe exchanges and tips on where to find the newest Tory Burch sandals. Caterered meals, driveways full of Suburbans and Louis Viutton purses lining the antique sideboard. Club memberships, camp choices and the cutest serving trays. Bizarre how alien I feel in a world I was once so comfortable within. The whole time I sat and listened, rendering the occasional comment, I wondered if they could tell how different I was.

Not because it’s wrong to talk about all those things, or to care about them. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right? And I like the women there. Good people.  But it amazed me I had changed and hadn’t really realized it. Like, for example, I knew more about Facebook, Twitter, etc, than they did. Okay, well, they had me beat on Pintrest, but otherwise, I was more connected. What? I know. It’s true. I pulled out my phone and showed them how to tweet and follow people. And then there was the part of me that felt all scientist behind the microscope, analyzing the things they said, the things that were important to them….the shoes they wore, the lip gloss and the way everyone drank water with cucumber slices in it. And then there was the actual game. Um, nobody really paid attention to it. They kept miscounting and forgetting to keep score. This drove me nuts, and I guess it’s because in writing we’re constantly competing with each other – either on the editor’s desk or in the reader’s good graces. It’s all about bringing your game and playing to win. And that wasn’t the purpose of Bunco it seems.

All I can say is that I’ve changed. Sorority party girl, charming cheerleader and playground social butterfly had faded and in it’s place a different woman has emerged. My interests are different and I was definitely fish out of water. Maybe it was because many of the ladies there are “friends’ but not “friends” …or maybe it was because they weren’t writers and didn’t “get” me. There was no talk of POV shifts or what’s hot in YA at the moment. No  gabbing about confernces past and present or the agent who clipped her fingernails during pitch sessions. Nope. None of that.

Just very, very different….and made me wonder about who I’d once been and who’d I become over the past few years.

So now I’m eager to know if you’ve ever felt like odd man/woman out at a gathering. Did you stay and fit in? Or was it too much for you to overcome? Any tips for being the odd duck?

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19 Responses

  1. I’d hug you, but you sound much more contemplative than sad. 🙂

    I’m not a very good fitter-inner. An environment like that would *kill* me. Okay, yeah, the competitor in me would have gone nuts at the miscalculating and forgetting to score whether I was a writer or not. LOL But that aside…

    We used to get invited to our neighbor’s new year’s eve parties. We made excuses and never went, and stopped getting invited. I avoid hanging out at soccer practices and (in the past) dance class waiting rooms. There are very few events I’ll volunteer for, because I’m totally socially dysfunctional. The only place I’ve ever really fit is with writers! All the anxiety and awkwardness is much easier to manage in a setting with writers.

    What you wrote makes me wonder if I’ve changed, too, and if the confidence and comfort level I’ve gained from being a writer can translate into other venues. Interesting to consider!

    • As I woke this morning, I thought about why I felt so strange. Part of it was this was a group that had been together for a while and I was a new face to some of them. So natural I should feel a little outsider. Then I thought about how so much of my community (for all writers) is online. This is my world. The gals I blog with are my virtual friends. I know what is going on in your lives and I exist here. I fit in a virtual comminity of writers better than I fit in my actual community. I think that was the thing. Right there. In the nutshell.

      So my husband called a minute ago and nearly flipped out I’d blogged about being uncomfortable, saying “what if one of them reads it?” and I was like, “Dude, I wasn’t ugly and said nothing hurtful.” Not haranguing or maligning or anything like that. Just recognized that I’ve changed.

  2. Oh my! I was reading this and thinking, hey I know this feeling. I’m right there with you both. LOL Maybe it has something to do with age? It seems like with each passing year, these things that used to be so important or interesting just aren’t anymore. I’ve always been an introvert, so I really have to be careful and work at getting out and joining in with others. Like Natalie, after practices or meetings at school, or any event if I’m honest, a little voice inside me screams run! LOL But I enjoy hanging with other Writers, they are just easier to talk to and relate to. Like you said, “they get me.” Even when I don’t get myslef. 🙂

    And the not keeping correct score would have drove me crazy too! LOL

    • Might be something to do with age – or just changing in my thinking. I think for the past three years I’ve been serious writer and I spend my time building worlds. I think maybe existing in an actual, real world – a social one – had me feeling naked and not as prepared. But here’s the thing. I don’t live in my created worlds and to a degree, I don’t live in my digital world. I DO live in my community and so after I thought about it, I realized I need to be able to hang in all those worlds. So I told my husband we have to go to the Silent Auction for our school and the Children’s Hospital benefit.

      Then I can come home and squirrel myself away and hang with the people who really get me – writers.

  3. My first NOLA meeting. I walked in and there were all these writers. Who was I kidding?! I was just some girl that grew up in one small town and moved to another. Heck I’d only known about RWA for a couple of weeks. I was so out of my league but I stuck around and now, though still out of my league, I know tremendously more than I did.

    Now every once in a while I get out in the school parking lot and catch up on the news of the other car line moms but mostly I sit in my truck researching or fleshing out plot points.

    So I’m very happy happy for working through my awkward duck moment because this is my new comfort zone.

    • Good point – at some point we’re all awkward and have to get past that intial place to be where we should be. I’m so glad you got past feeling nervous – we love having you as a member 🙂

  4. Liz, I’ve noticed this as well. I think it’s impossible to be a part of a gathering and impartially observe it at the same time. I agree with you – writing has changed me too.

    I don’t think there’s any going back!

    7 more books?! I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it!
    Hope your Christmas story comes in on deadline – Happy Holidays!

  5. I’ve never lived close enough to a writing group to have any face-to-face contact with writers. Until I met Cyndi at TGO, my writer contacts were limited to conferences and online. I notice that I’m like a someone who is thirsty–when I get with writers, I can’t get enough. With my group of friends, I listen a lot and take mental notes. And if one of them makes the mistake of asking about my wip, they can’t get me to shut up:-)

    • I’m the same way – don’t ask me what I’m working on unless you REALLY want to know. LOL.

      Being thirsty is a good description for the way I felt when I first joined my writing chapter. Couldn’t get enough of craft and learning about the ins and outs of publishing.

  6. Yep. Same here.

    I have twisted the arm of a life-long friend (seriously..I’ve known her since we were six!) to exercise with me four days a week. I find myself searching for topics to discuss during exercise. I don’t want to spend days talking about our mutual friends (i.e. gossip).

    Here’s the other way writing has changed me…No matter what I’m doing, I feel like I should be writing!

    • Uh, me,too! Why do we feel that way? I think it’s because all the other writers are online/Twitter/Fb saying they’re writing and then we think “I should be doing more!” and feel guilty for not hammering out story 24/7

  7. I always feel like an outsider. At work people talk about their hubbies or kids (I have neither), if I talk to a book friend she talks of authors I don’t read (I’m so stuck in my Harlequin bubble I forget other romances exist!).
    I think I didn’t realize how I didn’t fit until I was 12 and some girl at the campground called me ‘strange’. Up until then I didn’t notice how different I was. I try to fit in – I watch and listen, try not mention bodily functions that my father made me laugh over because not all people think they are funny. But then I also think that if someone doesn’t like me because I don’t ‘fit’ well that’s their problem, not mine.

    • Marcie – I don’t have children. All my life I’ve had to endure conversations about kids, their activities, etc. I had NOTHING to add. and yes, it did make me feel like an outsider.

      But I think as writers it’s experiences like those that help use define our characters. Have a character who is an outsider? Perfect. Pull on the feelings from when you were sitting there in a group of women all talking about crap you didn’t give a care for!

      and OMG! heaven help you if you tried to talk about sports or politics. NONE of the women have a clue! (Sorry…I just don’t get women who are uninterested in politics. THAT AFFECTS YOUR LIFE! Sorry. rant over)

      • Cynthia – I agree about using what you hear in a story – but sometimes the things I hear….I don’t think my story would be believable!

      • I have kids but talking about them all the time bores me. I don’t want to talk about all the drama, their test scores or their problems with so-and-so teacher. I tend to gravitate towards men so I can talk sports. You know I will talk sports with you any day.

        And, okay, I can talk about flowers and plants, too. Would have done that today if I hadn’t been so busy yesterday and ran out of light to take pics.

        And, Marcie, i think there are more people who feel as if they don’t belong than those who feel they do. Otherwise, the loner/misfit hero and heroine wouldn’t be so popular in fiction. At some point everyone can relate to not fitting in.

  8. *tries remembering the last nonwriter assolciated adult thing I’ve done where there wasn’t family*

    Uh….catch me next year when the kid starts K and I have interact with *gulp* regular people!

    Thinking about it though, I’m not sure I’ll feel too different. I’ve always been an observer. More listening and less interacting (I know!, hard to believe sometimes) but it is true. In a new enviornment, I will listen more. And when the kid starts school, some of the other parents are people I went to high school with.

    • I definitely think you’re an observer until you feel comfortable. Most people are, except the ones who are nervous and chatter to cover up their discomfort. I’ve done that a few times because it always feels like empty conversation is better than no conversation at all…but that’s not true. I have to remind myself to shut up often.

      Have fun being “one of the moms”

  9. I have pretty much always been odd woman out in most gatherings. I have learned to hang in there and stay for most of it. Over the years I have even learned to handle conversations and circulating. I still usually don’t feel like I belong, but I manage and can actually enjoy myself.

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