One of the things that have kept me from writing over the years is fear of judgment from my family. Not my family, my wife, and sons, but my immediate family, my mom, sister, brother and their families. We’re a pretty literate, educated group of people. It’d be safe to say that I’m not the smartest one in the group by a long shot. I’m the youngest by 6 and 8 years, my siblings are much closer to each other than I ever have been. I moved out of state 18 years ago, they both are still in the same state. I’m not estranged, but we’re not close, either. I don’t talk to them frequently, more my sister than my brother, as he has two grandkids now, and is in a pretty good place with his life, while my sister has been bequeathed the family chore of checking on our mother.
My mom is tough, she always has been. As she gets to the end of her life, and old age takes its toll, it’s frustrating for her. She has dementia now and as she loses her memories, etc., its tough on us, too. She told me once that she has a recurring dream where she’s answering questions at a press conference about my book, that apparently shows her in a bad light. My mom may show up as a character in a book someday, but more likely the character will be an amalgamation of traits rather than just based on my mom. I know several people who have many of those same traits. I would never show my mom in a bad light.
But this statement from my mom alone has caused me to write without telling them what I’m doing. Now that I’m actually writing and trying to build an audience, I’m not doing the first thing everyone tells you to do, announce it to your friends and family. That’s where your first followers come from.
I don’t feel comfortable doing that. It’s not like I’m writing on controversial subjects, but there’s this piece of me, this writer part, that I’ve always kept hidden. The muse has always been such a shy lass, that I worry about scaring her away. Now, even though I’ve conquered the daily habit, it seems there are residual pieces to my previous failed attempt to start writing. I’m truly starting from scratch.
I don’t announce this to my friends because it would strain our friendship. I know myself (every writer should) and I will resent people who don’t read my writing. It’s unfair, but if they aren’t reading my work, while I support their varied interests, buy cookies from their kids, etc., I would expect at least a return favor of them reading my work. But let’s be honest, I don’t want them to “return a favor.” I want readers who enjoy my writing.
This all being said, if someone I know stumbles across my writing, they will know it’s me, I haven’t been that coy about specifics, but I haven’t named names, either.
It’s also safer to write this way. If I fail, the failure won’t be linked directly back to me, I rationalize somewhere in the back of my brain. A stupid thought, but it’s probably the biggest motivator for not telling anyone about my writing. There’s also the fear of the company I work for thinking I’m spending too much time writing and not enough time working and ushering me out the door. That’s probably a completely fictional fear, but fear often times isn’t rational.
So I started this endeavor a year ago without really telling anyone about it. My wife knows but doesn’t read my writing. Some days that bothers me, others I like it because it means I don’t have to defend what I wrote. She doesn’t mean to, but she tends to point out things I do wrong, or have left out, etc. It’s what married people do to each other. Familiarity breeds contempt, remember?
But she likes the results. I’m apparently happier and easier to live with when I’m writing than when I’m not. I’m not sure about that but I like the progress I’m making as a writer. I’ve done more in the past eight months than all of my previous years put together. So as I wander around with ideas like this, I struggle back and forth as to whether I should include my social circle in my efforts.
I’ve always had a kind of chip on my shoulder to do things on my own. I’m the youngest, and I always remember saying, “I can do it myself!!!” That’s what this is, plus it allows me to have a few friends, and not hold grudges against them. Plus, it proves to me that if someone likes what I write, they like it for my writing, not because they know me and are just trying to support me. If I succeed or fail, I have no one to blame except myself.
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