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Neubauer's Nuggets
By Joan R. Neubauer
November, 2005, 11:11

ach month, award-winning author Joan R. Neubauer answers questions from you, her readers. She will answer questions about writing, promotion, publishing, and any other aspect of the publishing industry you can think of. Send your questions to her emailbox at Subject: Neubauer Nuggets and maybe yours will be the question she answers next month.

Fending Off Friends

Q. Dear Joan,

I've recently started freelancing and even sold a short piece to a local magazine. I joined a writer's group and subscribe to a few good writing magazines. I'm serious about this. I spend several hours a day at the computer either writing, researching, or trying to learn more about writing and publishing. The problem is I have a few very close friends who just don't understand. They call me during the day and invite me to go shopping, to play cards, spend hours at lunch, and do all sorts of other things that will take me away from my writing. How can I make them understand that this is not a hobby?

May Briton
Tampa, Florida

A: Dear May,

I totally understand your problem, as does nearly every other writer on the planet. When someone suddenly decides to get serious about their writing, friends and family often figuratively (and literally) pat them on the head and say, "How nice that you have a hobby."

Remarks like that make us want to gnash our teeth and rend our garments. Instead, in order to maintain the relationships, as we should, we just smile and nod. That's not the answer either.

When your friends call to invite you to out, thank them, but say you’re pushing a deadline and you just can't get away. You don't have to mention whether the deadline is an editor's who is waiting for a manuscript, or yours, so that you can get it done and move on to another piece.

When you do sell and publish an article, make photocopies for your friends and the next time they ask you out to lunch, go with them, but make it clear that you can only spend an hour. (You have to eat lunch anyway).

While at lunch, tell them you'd like them to celebrate with you because you've had another article published. Then hand them each a photocopy of the published article. After they have a small collection of your published works, they'll get the point, and give you and your work the respect you deserve.

When you do spend time with them, as you should, you'll notice a change in their attitude. No longer will they ask about your hobby. Instead, they'll ask how the new career is going.

Keep writing and keep selling!

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Joan R. Neubauer is an author and works as a publisher at Visit her website at or to drop her an email at or You can sign up for WordWright's monthly email newsletter at the site as well.

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