Wednesday, 20 March 2013

I'm a secret wannabe writer

This blog post is confidential. If you reveal the contents I may have to hunt you down and give you a      stern telling off or, in extreme cases, a slap round the face with a wet kipper.

My secret identity as a wannabe writer is something I prefer to keep to myself.
Only a few, essential people know and only because I had to tell them.

1. My husband and son because
a) it would be rather hard to hide the fact I spend most of my time writing.
b) I need them to listen to my ideas and read my work.
and c) so I have excuses for not doing any housework and ignoring them shamefully whenever the creative urge strikes.

2. My two best friends because
a) they spent twenty years listening to me talk about wanting to be an author.
b) they spent twenty years telling me to stop being an idiot and start writing.
and c) I wanted to avoid being called an idiot for another twenty years if possible.

3. My mum because
a) she's my mum.
b) she spent many years telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be.
and c) so i could request occasional babysitting duties.

That's it. Only five people in my life know about my secret ambition. Why have I kept it such a secret?
 Well, it's always been something private, a deep, dark desire that I couldn't articulate for years for fear of being ridiculed. I've never felt comfortable talking about it and I didn't want to deal with other people's opinions.
I imagined they'd fall somewhere in between
"Ha, are you crazy? It's impossible to get published and there's no way you're talented enough. You should just give up now and save yourself the trouble."
"Have you been published yet? No? Why not?"
"Oh anyone can get published nowadays. I'm thinking of getting my epic half a million word biography of a dancing tulip published next week."

I knew it could take years to get published and I wanted to avoid being quizzed on my progress every week and feeling the weight of expectations and disappointment bearing down on me and making my own struggle even harder.
I decided I would wait to tell everyone else until I had something concrete to pass on. I looked forward to the conversation, imagining it would go something like:

"You want to be a writer? Are you mad?"
"Yes, probably but I've been perfecting my craft for a few years and I now have an agent and a three book publishing deal so nah nah na nah nah!"

I'm aware that that actual conversation may never happen. I may never get an agent or any publishing deal, let alone a three book one. Does that mean I never tell anyone else about my dream?
And is that so strange?
Surely many people keep their ambitions and dreams to themselves?
Don't they?
At least I've now admitted it to myself and set about trying to make it happen. That's real progress in my book!

Of course, since I began writing I've been lucky enough to join SCBWI, find a crit group and make a whole load of new friends, all of whom share my dream, all of whom understand exactly how hard it is to achieve, all of whom support me in so many ways. Having them know makes it all seem real and hearing about their successes makes it all seem possible.

Thank you!

P.s - this message will self destruct in 30 seconds......


  1. This is so like me! Only a handful of people know my 'secret' well apart from all my bloggy friends of course!

    1. A, ha Suzanne, welcome to my secret author club.... nice to know I'm not the only one! x

  2. Love this. You are so right about crit groups - lovely to be surrounded by people who make writing feel like, you know, a reasonable way to spend your time. :-) Paula

    1. Hi Paula, thanks for reading and yes it's so important to find people who understand this strange obsession and share it too! X

  3. I too have always been extremely careful about who I reveal the "secret information" to. Part of that is shyness, but it's also not really any of their business what I do with my spare time! I've been bit more open in my current job, because it is publishing after all. However one of my colleagues did comment recently along the lines of "what, you're working for a publisher and you still can't get published?" This assumed that A) I joined a publisher out of desperation (rather than because I wanted the job)
    B) It's easier to get published when you're on the inside (it isn't)
    and C) I must be a rubbish writer (which I'm not).

    So yes, sometimes it's better to keep schtum.

    1. Ah, the comments from others, especially those who should know better! Definitely a good reason to keep quiet Nick.
      I'm still hoping I'll be able to do the big reveal one day but that may be just a pipe dream!

  4. I got carried away when my agent took me on and told far too many people - wish I'd kept it to myself!!

    1. It's hard to keep such good news to yourself Kathryn! x

  5. I have no such inhibitions, sadly. But not being able to say "I have an agent" or "my book is going to be published this year" did stop me writing the round robin christmas letter last year. So not all bad.

    1. Hi Jan, just imagine what you'll be able to write in your Christmas cards once you get your lucky break! X

  6. This article clears all the doubts and confusions that will have issues while pretending & not getting there where they want to. Excellent Article!!!
    Great interview! Read Me Dead sounds like it has a really good story in there!
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