Donna Everhart

Contents May Have Shifted

Two weeks ago, I opened my kimono – so to speak.  After receiving Author Of The Month, from Book-Hive in late September, I thought, what a perfect way to just let go, to stop hiding what I’ve been doing for several years, and share.  What better way to start than to put it out on Facebook.  And there it went, placed out there for all to see.

Like many writers, I haven’t talked much about “the writing,” as I call it.  Some family members know.  Some co-workers know.  (They know because how could I not share the excitement of signing with Talbot Fortune Agency three weeks before I left the job I’d held for more than 25 years?)  Some neighbors here in town know.  And that’s because my hubby is constantly asked when out and about, “what’s Donna doing these days?”  He doesn’t think about it like I do.  He simply tells them, “oh, she’s been doing a bit of writing.”

Despite all who did know, many did not.  Like my book club, for one.

I’ve been a member of The Thursday Afternoon Book Club for more than a decade.  I love this group of ladies.  And the book club itself, which holds the distinguished honor of being one of the oldest around, has a format that’s relaxing (unless you’re the one giving the program!) and friendly.  Founded in 1910, and still going strong one hundred and four years later, I was proud to have the centennial celebration at my house in 2010.  We added a few touches to our dress that day – hats.  We served a similar menu as to what the women in 1910 would have served.  Salad.  This is actually why they decided to meet on Thursdays when it first started.  The train delivered lettuce and because it was harder to keep produce fresh back then, serving it quickly was key.  Considered a specialty, nothing was nicer than for a hostess to serve guests a fresh salad.

Here are a couple photos from the Centennial celebration:

Some members of The Thursday Afternoon Book Club
Some members of The Thursday Afternoon Book Club
What about that hat?!
What about that hat?!

Anyway, we had our monthly meeting last Thursday.  I hadn’t planned on bringing up the post I put out on Facebook about Book-Hive and the AOTM thing.  Towards the close of the meeting though, someone I’m friends with on the site said, “Did you write a book?”  All heads turned my way.  The moment of truth.  It’s not as if I had a book published and this was like a reading, still, it was a moment when a group of people were waiting for me to begin to talk about my book.  To answer questions.  Especially this one:

What’s it about?

We’re all familiar with the statement “Contents May Have Shifted,” on packages of food like cereal, boxed dry goods, or bags of snacks – like potato chips, for instance.  You buy a bag and when you open it and look inside, you may think you’ve been short-changed.  It doesn’t look like it’s supposed to.  Shouldn’t the bag have more in it than that?  To expound further, my book club loves Jan Karon.  I’ve mentioned before that I felt the latest WIP isn’t a book club story.  Every time I  met with them, I sort of wondered, what would they think of me if they knew I’d written a story about illegal drugs, liquor, prostitution and murder?  That it has the f bomb tossed out over 100 times in approximately 340 pages.  When they all looked at me after the initial question, all this zipped through my head.

And when that ultimate question came up, “so what’s it about,” I was worried what they’d think of me.  Would they think they really hadn’t  known me all these years?  That I wasn’t who I appeared to be?  Like they’d expected this one thing, because hey, I still look like I’ve always looked (older, but close enough), and suddenly, the content of who I am had now shifted, giving them less of the person they’d come to know?

I think I sort of cringed.  I said, “Well, it’s not a book club book.”  They laughed good naturedly.  And persisted, “what’s it about?”  So, I told them.  And…, they were excited.  And hopeful.  For me.  One lady is a Presbyterian minister.  She came up to me afterwards, and said, “Oh I love a good mystery.”  I was still overwhelmed by yapping about it for about twenty minutes, and said, “I thought you all might think I had horns hidden under my hair somewhere.”  And she was like, “Oh, it’s just about life, that’s all that is.”

I realized then how crazy it had been to worry, not only about these ladies, but, that I might be judged as lacking in character somehow.  That my “contents,” would somehow shift in their eyes because of my work.  It’s just…work.  It’s what I do.  Think about it, shouldn’t we be proud?  Shouldn’t we own it?

How do you feel about sharing your work?

14 thoughts on “Contents May Have Shifted”

  1. How did I miss the Book-Hive post?! This is huge!! Congratulations, Donna! The open kimono looks good on you. (Okay, that sounds creepy but I’m leaving it.)


    1. It was a couple posts ago…you might have been distracted by a certain someone with the beginning initial of “L.” 🙂

      Not creepy! Funny – as usual!, Ms. Cartman.

      XOXO back at you.

  2. The one time I shared (I wrote about it in my “hardcore” post some weeks ago), the woman took several months to read my story. I was baring my soul to her — at her request — and then she took forever to read the story.

    So aside from your WIP, what book did your group discuss?

    1. I read that post. How awkward, right? If I ask to read someone’s work, I expect to get to it in a pretty expeditious fashion. Maybe only writers understand how important it is to receive acknowledgement.

      The book discussed – almost funny in a way considering the post. Jan Karon’s latest, SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD. An angel and the devil – in the same room.

  3. Oh what a great experience!

    I always feel…awkward talking about one of my books (especially since none of them are published. Not even on the horizon). I try to keep in mind a pitch-like summary, especially because I’m so BAD at pitch-like summaries, so I’m not left looking/sounding awkward and like an imposter because what writer doesn’t know what her book is about and doesn’t know how to talk about it? (answer: it’s easier to write than talk about writing. For me, at least.)

    1. I think every writer has this “affliction.” We ought to give it a name. Maybe “Itsabouthisphobia.”

      I have a similar strategy as yours. I’ve found that if I tell them the elevator pitch, I can then go into a bit more detail. And so true…soooo much easier to write than to talk about it. Which, considering how I was in the middle of it all months ago, is saying a lot.

  4. I love the idea of your book club, and I’m amazed its been around for so long. I do remember trying to get some book clubs to read my book and failing miserably, but that life eh. You’ve been very determined, and I hope you enjoy the the success you deserve

    1. Hey Peter! Long time it seems since we’ve crossed paths in the blogosphere. Last I heard you were writing your second novel. Are you still writing it, or did you finish?

      I think my book club is very special, not only b/c of it’s history, but b/c of the people in it.

      I would have thought your first book the perfect choice for a book club!

  5. My writing, my life actually, is out there for everybody to see, via my column. I get great feedback and I love it. When I was building my fiction-empire (what a laugh) I ha a hard time describing what my two novels weret

    1. It’s a fact. I think, much like trying to write those damn queries, or synopses, we just…stall. Sputter. Become overwhelmed. I think the best thing to do is have the elevator pitch, and practice, practice, practice.

  6. Sharing is daunting. When I pick mine up again I will tell only my husband and my parents most likely. I don’t know if I could take questions about “how’s it going?” Or knowing smirks I would imagine hiding behind fake smiles…see I can’t even handle it in my head, let alone for real.

    1. Ah! And there’s the real rub. I know there are true supporters, and then there are those who ALSO say…”oh, how wonderful!” only you can tell it’s not genuine. I operated in a very limited capacity for years, similar to the familial nucleus you mention. Then I read you need to build followers before being pub’ed. And I slowly lowered the walls b/c there will always be those who are jealous, or whatever. It’s unavoidable. Sort of like those one or two star ratings pub’ed authors get. Might as well get used to it and build a thicker skin! 🙂

      Excited to know you might start writing again!

      1. Yes, definitely need followers. The good thing about having a blog and a close circle of book blogging and writing friends! Lol! But I wonder how long it would take me to tell them what I’m doing?!

      2. Like me, I think you’ll know when the time is right. I used the Book-Hive thing, b/c it was good news, and something tangible as far as a writing “credit,” so to speak. It just seemed like the right time. IDK. I mentioned I had linked the blog to FB, but I removed it. I share on Twitter and LinkedIn, but got sorta “paranoid,” about FB. LOL! Waffle waffle waffle.

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