Sunday, April 12, 2015

Boundaries are a bitch

by Kristi Belcamino

In some ways, when the dream of being a published author comes true, the actual launch day is pretty anti climatic. Same old laundry to fold and bills to pay.

But over time something subtly changes. One day we realize that a life that - for the most part - is a extremely solitary one, has become exceedingly public.

And along with that a false sense of intimacy and familiarity is created.

I've been struggling with this a bit over the past year as a newly published author.

Normally, I have very good and strong boundaries in my relationships, but navigating this new world as a published author - in a sense a public figure - has been difficult.

There are so many wonderful parts about being published. I still pinch myself that someone who I'm not related to reads my books. And I'm doubly astonished when they end up loving my books.

I promised myself years and years ago that I would be an accessible writer to my readers.

My role model is Adriana Trigiani. When her assistant found out my book group was reading her books, she arranged for Adriana to call our book club meeting. I put her on speaker phone and said hello.

"How's it going, baby?"

She spent the next thirty minutes talking to us, giving us insider and background information on her book, asking our advice as to whether a character should marry another character or not, and then ultimately inviting us to be extras on the movie being made about her book.

So, yeah, I wanted to be her. I still want to be her. But it is a fine line to walk.

Like I mentioned above, having strangers read my books is the best. thing. ever.

But it is also a bit odd.

Because now these wonderful strangers feel like they know me. And I want them to know me and I want to know them because having loyal readers is a dream come true for me.

So for the most part it is a blessing and an amazing experience.

But sometimes people think the relationship is maybe more than it really can - or should - be between an author and a reader.

So, I'm struggling in how to establish boundaries. And for me, at least, it's not easy.

There are people I've met in this mystery community, this amazingly warm and welcoming group, that have truly become genuine friends. And this is more wonderful than I ever imagined.

And I have also become friends with some of the people who have read my books.

I want to be friends with people. I want to be kind and open to others. But I also am a writer who is a mother and wife and daughter and sister-in-law and sister and best friend, and writing group member, and I'm blessed enough to have a life that is very, very full.

So, I'm learning how to navigate those tricky waters of being an author who is really open and accessible to readers, without making promises that I can't keep, without falsely fostering a sense of intimacy I can't provide, and without overstepping professional boundaries that can end up in hurt feelings or misunderstandings.

If you have any advice on this, please share!

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