On being a closeted writer.

I would honestly rather being doing a thousand dead lifts than starting a blog right now. It’s not that I don’t have things to say; but deciding on how I’m going to present myself to an online community, and creating posts about writing when I’m still figuring it out, is beyond intimidating. But while doing research on the publishing process, I’ve read in several places that a writer needs to have an online presence, and that goes beyond my occasional tweets about my love for clumsy panda videos or how delicious In-N-Out Burger is.

The hardest part about it is that I don’t talk about writing that much in my everyday life. I was really lucky growing up in that one of my best friends also wanted to be a writer, so we spent a lot of time discussing what we were working on, collaborating on projects and editing each other’s stories. My mom was super supportive and my middle sister read every single thing I wrote, and would give me the best constructive criticism on how to improve while still encouraging me to pursue my dreams. I was actually kind of spoiled on being in such a positive environment, until I entered college.

I went to NAU and got a degree in English with the intent of becoming a published author immediately after graduating. I took creative writing classes and worked closely with a mentor; when I wasn’t huddled over the pages of British literature, I was actually working on my own stories. But the further into my academic career I got, the less time I had for writing. Soon it became sporadic moments, school breaks, something I could only spend time on in the summer. I could easily tell someone that I couldn’t go out because I had a test to study for the next day; it’s homework, it’s college, everyone gets it. But staying in because I wanted to be alone and write for a few hours was super difficult to explain, because not everyone has that compulsion.

It was during college that I stopped really being open about writing. When someone asked me what my degree was for, I’d say that I wanted to be a writer. When people would ask me what I wanted to write about, I’d say “Everything.” It’s true, I do, but it also discourages follow up questions. If I tell you that I want to write young adult novels because it was a time when reading was the ultimate indulgence for me, you’re going to ask me what sub-genre. (And this was before young adult blew up into the huge market that it is today, so people gave me even stranger looks when I tried to explain it to them.) I quickly came to understand that most people really only want to know about your writing if you’re successful at it.

So while I haven’t been dishonest about wanting to be a writer, I’ve been vague at best about how serious I am about that dream. I am painfully shy about the novel that I’ve finished and am editing for the seventh (and what I hope to be the last) time before querying agents. I would rather discuss my sexual history with a stranger than give them a plot synopsis of my latest project. It’s become so personal to me that I don’t want to discuss it with non-writers or people who aren’t in the publishing business, people who don’t understand the undeniable urge to create something that’s only been residing within your head but steadily demanding to be let out.

I’m beyond grateful to have a few people in my life who have been truly wonderful and supportive of me, friends who understand how important it is to me to keep going, to keep working at it. I get most of my writing done late in the evening after work or early on weekend mornings, and my husband is incredibly respectful when I tell him I can’t talk to him for an hour so I can get some work done. I have an amazing former teacher who scolds me every time I admit I haven’t submitted anything yet. My wonderful sister has read all six drafts of my novel and doesn’t complain (at least not to my face) when I ask her to read just one more after a new round of revisions. And I feel like if my mother can believe in me, I owe it to her and everyone else to get past my own self-consciousness and put myself out there so that I can really have a shot at this.

So I’m writing about writing. Also about ridiculous things like how terrible I am at riding a bicycle, how weightlifting helped give me a butt, my cat’s not very secret desire to be a lazy private detective, and whatever food experiment I might have stumbled upon. (Right now I just discovered nutritional yeast and why did no one else tell me about it?)

But I’m going to mostly write about writing.

 

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