I must have known subconsciously that I was in for some weirdness when I began writing for publication - why else my determined (and ultimately futile) attempts to keep the writing aspect of my life a secret from all but two or three dear familiars?
Case in point: the shenanigans of Naughty Niece and Nefarious Nephew. I made the rookie mistake of mentioning to the former that a character in a work-in-progress is a rebellious teenage girl who sails (like my niece) and has a crush on a surfer (like my niece). My niece was delighted - so delighted, in fact, that she immediately decided to start writing a book of her own. Inspiring a child to take up the pen is gratifying, or would have been if it had stopped there...
The first sign that things were getting strange was when her brother, Nefarious, started being nice to me. He came into the office after school one day, planted a kiss on my cheek and enquired in the 'honey voice' he usually reserved for wheedling unmerited favours from his grandmother whether I was really writing a book about Naughty. I gave him the evil frown.
"No, I'm not. A girl in one of my stories sails so I asked your sister for some pointers."
"But she said..."
I rolled my eyes and went on with my work. Several days later he was back, so polite and solicitous that I smelled a very dead rat, and asked when I was going to write a book about him.
"I don't know. Never is as good a guess as any."
"Pleeeeease, pleeeease, pleeeease write a book about me!"
I gave him 'the look' and went about my business. I thought that was the end of that, but the next thing I knew, he had started writing a book of his own. He then started bombarding me with questions about the financial part of the writing lark, like, at what point did the millions start rolling in, and how soon would he be able to buy a private jet?
I didn't burst his bubble.
It's irritating when grown people who know nothing about publishing attempt to give me condescending advice such as: "Why don't you try to get on Oprah? It'll help your book." It's hilarious when my kin insist on building their castles on the sands of my non-existent publishing windfall. It's hurtful when formerly dear friends with publishing ambitions of their own don't share my joy at my little successes. When the children start acting as silly as their elders, however, it's time to return to square one and divulge nothing, nothing whatsoever about the writing side of my life.