What Are You Writing About?

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 30, 2011

The logical follow-up question that is asked every time I tell someone I am writing a novel.

What are you writing about?

Of course they want more information. I certainly would! The only problem is that up until about three days ago, I didn’t know how to explain it.

Sample answers included:

  • “Um…”
  • “Well…”
  • “Great question…”
  • “It’s kind of hard to explain, but basically it’s…”

Cue run on sentences and blank stares.


(Not sure why I decided a llama would be a good representation of blank stares. Let’s just go with it.)

Eventually, I realized that the reason I had so much trouble explaining it was because I was afraid that if I settled on a synopsis that I loved, then everyone else would hate it. Or think it was a dumb idea. Or criticize it and make me feel like this was all a big mistake.

The irony is that I can’t think of one person who has asked me that question who would ever, even on their worst day, give me such a negative response. The negativity was all just a projection of my fears.

And so, to kick things off in the discussion about the challenges and the joys of writing, I wanted to share my general story idea with all of you. It’s still a work in progress, but I do think it encompasses the direction I’m headed.

I am writing a novel that discusses generational differences in the workplace, specifically for young females. It will showcase the impact that our family, our friends and, most importantly in this case, our co-workers can have on major career and life decisions.

There. I said it.

My approach to answering is broad, I know. But I’d rather not get into the specific details just yet. Trust me, there will be plenty of drama to go around. πŸ˜‰ I’m about 40,000 words in, more or less because there are certain aspects of the plot that have changed over the weekend.

Yes. That’s another thing. My plot changes. All. The. Time. It’s maddening, but also awesome because I know every change brings me closer to the final idea, the one that I will see through to the end.

But that’s a subject for another post.

Today is about topic. Now that I’ve (finally) answered the question, what are you writing about?, the logical follow-up question that’s next in line is, how did you come up with this idea?

My answer: think about what you know.

The topics of work environment, culture and the dynamic between co-workers are all very near and dear to my heart. Once I recognized the themes and points I wanted to make in the book — based on what I know — it became much easier to create fictional characters who could fulfill these missions for me.

I’m not saying my way is the best way or even that it will work for me every time. In fact, my dream as a writer has always been to be able to create an entire world from my imagination (yes, J.K. Rowling has had a profound influence on me). But since I am still new to the game, and since I want to write the best first draft I can write, going about it this way feels right.

For now.

So…what do you think?


1 Kathryn @ Flopoodle August 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

That’s so exciting! I’m trying to write a book too so I can totally relate to the difficulty in trying to effectively explain your idea, especially early in the process when you know it’s totally going to evolve over time. Changing plots? Mine has twisted and turned more times than I can count and I’m barely 1/3 of the way through. Good luck!!!

2 Jenn (eating bender) August 31, 2011 at 9:44 am

I’m so excited you commented on my blog! I was reading yours yesterday and am bookmarking to read more this weekend. I think it’s so exciting that you are writing a book right now, too! Looking forward to chatting more about the craziness that is the rough draft. :) Good luck to you, too!

3 Liz @ Southern Charm August 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

Love the general story idea! How fun!

And what a good idea to answer in a broad sense … I’m sure things do change all the time.

Good luck!

4 Jenn (eating bender) August 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

Thank you so much, Liz! Your feedback is incredibly appreciated and I can’t wait to share more specifics in the coming months. :)

5 Erica August 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

Sounds good to me! Josh and i have actually discussed generational differences at work in depth- especially the differences in how we communicate

6 Jenn (eating bender) August 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

I find it so fascinating — and definitely relevant in today’s job economy!

7 shannon August 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

ha. i think it will turn out to be very interesting… especially thinking of the dynamics of workplaces that i have been a part of!

8 Jenn (eating bender) August 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

One of the reasons I’m so excited is that I’m sure, on some level, that everyone can relate! :)

9 Melissa @ TryingToHeal August 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Yay!!!! You know I am there for you one hundred percent and can’t wait to see how it goes! But question…do you remember what you told me you were going to write about last summer? You still work’n on that? I’ve been working on mine!!!

10 Jenn (eating bender) August 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

Thanks, as always, lady! Can’t wait to swap stories with you. :)

11 braingutshands September 1, 2011 at 9:27 am

40,000 words?! That’s a massive chunk! The amount that you accomplish never ceases to astonish me. I hope to write a novel one day, too πŸ˜‰

12 Jenn (eating bender) September 6, 2011 at 10:02 am

Thanks, cuz! That means a lot. :) I have no doubt that you will write one!

13 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) September 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This is so exciting and sounds like a fabulous topic. Very interesting especially in todays society/workplace. Excited for you!! And I will agree with the comment above… 40,000 words is much to be proud of… you go girl!

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