I came out of the writer’s closet a couple of months ago. You see, for a long time I kept my writing secret from everyone outside of my family, and even they weren’t allowed to read it. After a couple of years, when I had to explain why I was going to writing conferences, I told a couple of close friends, or more accurately I muttered something vague about writing romantic fanfiction, and they very kindly didn’t laugh at me. I didn’t even tell people in my real life when I self-published my books. Meantime, thousands of complete strangers I’d met on-line knew all about this important part of my life.
The first crack in the shell came when Sourcebooks wanted to buy my books, and they tracked me down at my office. Unfortunately, by the time the puzzled receptionist had passed it off to the office manager after insisting that nobody in the office wrote books, it was all over. Faced with a line of very amused faces the next time I showed up to work, all of whom wanted to know why this was the first they’d ever heard about it, I was mortified and said something about romantic scenes and being private.
But by the time my books were showing up in bookstores, I knew the jig was up. Even then I resisted telling people except in very select circles, mostly because it was tricky to tell people I knew well that I had this secret life. Finally this autumn I realized I couldn’t keep it up, and once I decided to tell everybody, I wanted to get it over with. So I posted it this on my real-life Facebook page (as opposed to my writer page):
Okay, for those who haven’t heard, I’m coming out of the writer’s closet. Yes, I write novels. Yes, they’re published, under the pen name Abigail Reynolds. Yes, I’ve been keeping this a deep dark secret for years because I’m ridiculously touchy about my writing, but it’s getting kind of silly to keep hoping nobody I know sees me when I’m doing a book signing, so here I am. 🙂
Everyone was, of course, more pleased and excited than I’d anticipated. The part I hadn’t expected is how many old friends I heard from who were also closet writers, and I’d had no idea! I’d thought I was just being odd, but it seems like it’s really quite common. At a NaNoWriMo write-in, I ran into a woman I used to work with, and neither of us knew the other one wrote.
What is it about writing that makes us act like we have some terrible, shameful secret? After all, as hobbies go, it’s harmless, cheap, and doesn’t need feeding or walks. I’m tempted to say it’s non-addictive, but of course that isn’t true – writing is one of the most addictive things around. But it’s made me very curious about why other writers keep mum as well. Any thoughts?