Friend: “So, you have Wednesday off, don’t you?”
Me: “Um… yes. I do.”
Friend: “Great! We should do lunch and maybe see a movie.”
Friend: “Oh, I mean, unless you have plans already?”
Me: “Well, I was planning on catching up on some… uh… work… that I have to do. At home. On Wednesday.”
Friend: “You have work to do on your day off? On a holiday weekend?”
Me: “Yeah, I mean, we have to get ready for Black Friday.”
Friend: “You design brochures. For colleges.”
Me: “Right. Yes, I do. It’s… the company, it’s doing this big social media push to try to get more colleges to purchase… in bulk.”
Friend: “In bulk.”
Me: “Yeah. It’s, you know, ridiculous. But hey, overtime, right? So, I get a rain check, on the, uh… lunch date?”
Friend: (sighs) “Sure, I’ll add it to your tab of rain checks.”
Okay, so I’m not quite this bad. But I worry (a little) that this is how I sound. I don’t ever tell bald-face lies like that, but I do dodge social activities and blame it on a general need to work (writing is totally work).
I’ve been a closet writer for YEARS, and up until recently, I hadn’t even let my husband or kids read anything I’d written. That has changed recently, but I still haven’t ‘come out’ to my friends or family.
I don’t think I will.
I’m not a fragile writer; I can take criticism… but I’m not good with pressure. And I know my closest acquaintances would be eager to make small talk and show their support by constantly asking me things like:
When are you going to be published?
How is that book coming along?
Why don’t you write a book like ___________?
What will you buy when you are a billionaire like JK Rowling?
I just… no. I can’t deal with that. Questions like that would kill my writing dead. I would flat-line, you guys.
And it would only get worse were I to publish:
How is your book doing?
Have you made a million dollars yet?
Is it on the best seller lists?
How much was your advance? I read *insert author name* gets 250K in advance money, did you get that much?
I know most published authors have to deal with this sort of thing, and it’s minor, really. And if I can work hard enough / get brave enough / get lucky enough to publish, I should be grateful and accept whatever small irritations come my way, right?
But what’s so wrong with retaining some privacy? It can be tricky, I know, especially in this digital age. But since I’m missing that ‘thirst for fame’ gene, I really would like to keep this whole writing thing on the down low for as long as possible — if not forever. John Twelve Hanks is managing it, why can’t I?
One of my favorite tidbits about Jane Austen is how she wrote in secret to preserve her privacy. Sense and Sensibility was published not under her name, but “By A Lady.” The inimitable Jane didn’t want to become a public character, and neither do I. Not even a little bit.
I suppose it’s kind of a silly worry to have at this point anyway, but I can’t help but plan ahead (it’s in my nature — I started worrying about my retirement when I was ten). Ideally, I’d like to publish under a pseudonym, have my books enjoy a moderate level of ‘sleeper hit’ type success, and never be asked to speak at a school or sit at a desk and sign books.
It doesn’t feel like it is too much to ask, but in the world of publishing (traditional and indie) most everyone is all about the author bio, the author photo, putting yourself out there, booking speaking engagements, and going on tour.
It all gives this agoraphobic hermit a terrible stomach ache, honestly.