Them: What do you do?
Me: I'm a writer.
Them: Really? What do you write?
Me: Children's books.
Them: Oh, wow. I've been thinking about doing that, too! I've always wanted to write a children's book.
The Other Them: I've written lots of children's stories. My 4-year-old loves them. Maybe you can help me get them published.
The Other Other Them: My third cousin's girlfriend's sister wrote a book and found this publishing company that just loves it and is going to publish it. She just has to send them a one-time processing fee of $10,000 first.
The Other Other Other Them: My nine-year-old has written the most adorable book about a talking tadpole named Timmy. Her teacher thinks it's fabulous. Maybe you could give her some advice on how to get it published.
As a result, I confess that I've developed a rather cynical response to the ole I'm-a-writer, he's-a-writer, everybody's-a-writer stuff (especially children's writing since, you know, it's so much easier and all).
But recently I ran into a guy who had done some carpentry work at our house and when he introduced his wife to me, he added, "She's a writer, too."
There it was, rearing it's ugly head: my "yeah, right" attitude. But I think I hid it well and politely asked about her work. She told me she had published an adult novel a few years ago and was in the process of working on another.
But, out of curiosity, I got a copy of her book.
It totally blew me away. The writing was wonderful. The voice fresh and distinctive. The settings vivid. The characters nothing short of amazing. The story riveting.
I was knocked off of my "yeah, right" pedestal and landed with a "lesson learned" thud.
I hopefully redeemed myself by writing her a gushing, glowing, raving, I-so-admire-your-work note.
That book, by the way, was Outside Valentine by Liza Ward.
P.S. to Liza: I'm sorry, okay? Lesson learned.