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.
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