Ten Questions for Xuan Juliana Wang from Poets & Writers
“What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?
“I would have to say the loneliness of falling out of step with society. When I’m out celebrating a friend who has just made a huge stride in their career, someone would ask me, “Hey how’s that book coming along?” Then having to tell them that I have a desk in an ex-FBI warehouse and I’ll be sitting there in the foreseeable future, occasionally looking out the window, trying to make imaginary people behave themselves.”
Many writers and aspiring writers might easily share Wang’s answer to the challenges of writing books. You have to be able to accept a lot of prospective loneliness that comes with being out of sync with everyone else.
Personally, I don’t like the question “Hey how’s your book coming along” because most people want a quick answer. They don’t want to hear about the plot or your trials and tribulations and doubts. Chances are, they would be impressed if you told them you’d just signed a $100,000 deal with HarperCollins and that your agent is already in negotiations with Hollywood. Otherwise, the best answer is “slowly, but surely.”
Anything other than that, and people’s eyes glaze over and they find excuses to go to the bathroom, head over to the bar for another drink, or simply disappear. You have to be crazy or filled with a lot of passion to sign up for this.
If you’re a writer, do you feel that you’re not part of the hustle and bustle of “real life”?