Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Keeping a Secret

As a writer, how much do you talk about your work — and how much do you keep secret?

I definitely err on the secret side. A very select few know about what story I am working on right now. Fewer still know what I am planning next.

I sometimes wish this was different. Sometimes my work delights me so much with its promise that I want to blog it, scream it, gush about it on the phone with my mom, share with the world my every little victory. Writing a novel is a long journey fraught with peril, so why not celebrate each milestone we reach?

But here is the problem. The stories we write, they are so fragile. I feel like, one word too many to my friends, and the novel will run away from me. One boastful post here about my progress — and the next thing I know, my WIP, that magic graceful unicorn with wings, will land hard on its bottom and turn into a mule on me.

It is so so hard to keep such secrets, especially in this age of tweeting-posting-sharing. It is so hard to keep quiet on the heels of an inspiring weekend.

And yet, it is a matter of survival for me as a writer, I am afraid. I hate being chained by superstition, but yes, there is a lot of it — this feeling that inevitably, if I share some good writing progress news, the Universe shall punish me with writing-related torture in the weeks and months to come. I am like that just-pregnant woman who is afraid to tell the world of the joy she hopes to hold in her arms less than nine months from now. She can’t wait to tell — but she keeps quiet, because what if after all the celebration she turns out to be wrong?

This is kind of what happened last year with me continually keeping you posted on my progress with my second manuscript, The Refuge. I kept blogging about each revision — it felt so good to share the triumphs and the difficulties alike. Then, the story that I once loved, that my writing friends reviewed a thousand times, that my agent read twice now, in a very different incarnation each time, that supposed “masterpiece” just sunk out of my sight. It was horrible. It felt like the earth caving in under my feet.

This year, I am trying to be wiser. Stronger. Quieter.

So now you know. You know why I have been blogging just a bit less frequently, lately. You know why I post book reviews. Compile lists, etc. I am acting like Kathryn Sockett who, legend has it, kept her work on “The Help” secret from friends and family. I am that little Soviet child in the picture below who is forced to keep her mouth shut. She won’t share her dreams and her secrets, not until her time comes.

Sh-sh-sh…

What about you? How much do you share? Do you blog to celebrate your completed first drafts, eureka moments, ambitious hopes, revisions, submissions — and make out okay? :)

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January 17, 2012 - Posted by | Personal Mirror, Writing Mirror | ,

14 Comments »

  1. As always, I love your childhood photos! Well, I don’t blog a whole lot about the particulars of my WIPs But I do sometimes share process or subject matter. I get so excited about subject and research that I do want to talk about it.

    Oh, and speaking of talking. I’ll talk in-person with just about anyone regarding what I am writing. They have to care enough to ask about it and also to act as if they really care. But if they show real interest – oh yes, I will talk. I am not at all superstitious about sharing my material.

    I feel as if I get leads and lots of help from talking about my subjects. I blogged recently about writing the Vietnam War and yesterday I got a letter from a Vietnam Vet who seems to have happened upon my blogpost (probably in response to a Google search). I am making a new friend, one who was there and experienced Vietnam firsthand and who would like to share his memoir with me as he writes. I figure that HAS to inform my writing also. And maybe I can be supportive to him too.

    So anyway, Katia my dear – we are different, aren’t we? But we each have to find our own process! I wish you luck. Your day will come!

    Comment by joycemoyerhostetter | January 17, 2012 | Reply

    • Oh Joyce, how absolutely FABULOUS for you. And it’s obviously worked wonderfully so far, so why on earth would you want to change that? I wish I could be as free as you with sharing your process — it is so much more fun this way. Maybe one day :) I can’t wait! (But I just can’t do it now). Damn superstition!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  2. Oh, I’m a secret-keeper, for sure. I even have trouble letting my own writing group know what I’m working on before the rough is finished! And so far, I’ve blogged very little about my own writing. That’s why I write book reviews.

    A moving and honest post, Katia.

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  3. I don’t really talk about specifics of what I’m working on, only that I’m ‘editing’, or ‘writing’. I’m like you, afraid that if I say too much, it will all disappear somehow.

    Love the picture :-)

    Comment by Sarah Pearson | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. Joanne and Sarah, so you understand. I think I want to try it just this year, see if this makes a difference for me, if my WIP(s) like it better, and the Universe is placated from all my earlier bragging, so that once I have some success, I can break this vow of silence and fill you guys in! ;)

    Comment by Katia Raina | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  5. Mum is the word! Zipped lips work for me! Love the photo.

    Comment by Clara Gillow Clark | January 17, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks, Clara. I knew there were many of us secret-keepers out there!

      Comment by Katia Raina | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  6. I do a mix – I blog about eureka moments, but without any details of plot or story – I simply say that I had a eureka moment. I blog about inspiring weekends and plans to write for so many hours a day, but I don’t talk about what I’m actually writing.

    So I get to share, but just a little bit. :-)

    I’m always worried that if I share ideas or topics, someone who is a faster writer will beat me to the punch. That’s my thing about sharing and secrecy.

    Comment by Ishta Mercurio | January 17, 2012 | Reply

    • Ishta, as long as it works for you! :)
      Also, remember, we each have unique stories to tell. If your story comes from a true place inside yourself, no one can really steal it. Theirs will just be totally different, that’s all, even if they use your identical idea. (I know what you mean though — we all feel protective about our ideas and our writing — myself included!)

      Comment by Katia Raina | January 17, 2012 | Reply

  7. I post about my progress, but I don’t post about what my manuscripts are about. My critique group and beta readers only know about that. Not only do I want to keep my ideas under wraps, but I don’t want to be judged on something that’s changing day by day.

    That is a great photo.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | January 18, 2012 | Reply

    • I can totally second that, Medeia, about the story changing day by day. That’s the story of my life — and my writing!
      So that’s what many of you seem to do — share about the process, like I used to. Maybe one day soon I will feel confident enough to cast all superstision aside and join you in that. Not yet, but hopefully soon. Not being able to share even the process is torture, though there is something a little bit delicious about keeping secrets, too. :)

      Comment by Katia Raina | January 18, 2012 | Reply

  8. I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Congratulations! You can find the rules and details here (http://storymultiverse.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/versatility-linkativity-insightitude/).

    Comment by Ben | January 22, 2012 | Reply

    • Whoa — so cool. This week is a week of firsts for me: first book win, and now a first blog award. How awesome. Thank you!!!!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  9. [...] been away — too long — and the worst part is — due to my crazy superstitions (see my previous post), I can’t even blog about it! [...]

    Pingback by Versatile Blogger: Moi? « MAGIC MIRROR | January 30, 2012 | Reply


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