After we moved to Asia in 2003 my husband and I began to travel extensively. We were teachers in Hong Kong and every vacation or long weekend we hopped on a plane somewhere and explored another part of the world. The people we worked with at the international school where we taught, were almost all avid globe trotters as well, and so we loved to chat about our various holidays and travel adventures with one another.
I noticed however when we returned home to Canada that most people were interested in hearing us talk about our travels for about 5 minutes in a conversation. Unless they were avid travelers too or had actually been to the same destination their eyes started to glaze over after about 5 minutes. I soon learned to watch for the signals and then cut off stories about travel escapades as quickly as possible.
I am finding it is kind of the same thing when you have a book published. Of course, you are terribly excited about it and want to talk about it but soon realize there are many people you know or meet who don’t know about your book, haven’t read your book, didn’t think your book was that great, or have no idea about all the years of work that goes into writing a book or how slim your chances were of getting it published.
If I talk about my novel too much, even if someone has asked me a question about my book, their eyes soon glaze over, their attention is diverted by something going on around us, or they start an alternate conversation. Of course, the exception is other writers who know all about the process of writing and publishing a book and are eager to hear and share information and ideas. I am realizing when it comes to my book it is a good idea to not bring up the topic, but wait for someone else to introduce it, and then use the same 5-minute rule that I use for travel stories.
I think this isn’t only true when it comes to the topics of travel or book publishing. I have also found if you are with people who aren’t grandparents it’s best to keep your comments about your own grandchildren to a five-minute limit. If you are with people who aren’t teachers it is best to keep your wisdom about schools and education and your own teaching experiences to five minutes. If you are with people who don’t attend church it is best to keep talking about your church down to a five-minute quota. When I worked at the art gallery I noticed that waxing eloquent about some exhibit just made people who weren’t interested or familiar with art decidedly bored after 5 minutes.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always stick to the five-minute rule nor am I always as sensitive as I should be to situations where I need to use it, but I’m trying.