So I’ve written a book and a half. I have entered a Short Story into a couple of writing contests and I’ve set up all manner of social media pages and a website/blog. Now I just have to break the news to my family: I’m a writer.
The nice thing about using my pen name is that it has given me the anonymity I wanted to protect myself and my loved ones. And clearly, it has worked well, because not even my husband is aware that I have written even word one. But the time has come. If I get a positive response to my short story, or my social media presence picks up, then it will only be a matter of time before my secret is out.
Some of you may be wondering why I have kept my writing a secret to begin with. The short answer is because I am just coming to terms with it myself. The truer answer is a little more complicated. It starts at the same place: I didn’t set out to be a writer. It was never a dream of mine. It just, kind of, happened. It was as unexpected to me as it will be to my family and friends. But as the time quickly approaches for me to have to break my news, the reality of their responses has been what is holding me back.
Nobody wants to feel rejected, least of all, people who are choosing to make themselves vulnerable. Writing, whether it is fiction or not, is an act of willingly placing part of who you are on a page for people to do with what they will. Of course you want people to like you, or at the very least, be entertained by you, but there is the very real possibility that they won’t. So you find yourself needing a safe place, where you can find unconditional love and support, and the obvious place for that would be your family. Your friends.
And this is where things get complicated for me. First, there is the fact that I will be throwing this curveball from left field. Nobody will see it coming. And when that happens, it is in our human nature to get into a defensive position — to protect ourselves. It won’t be something I can blame anyone for, but it will put me in a difficult position to address issue number two: my subject.
I write romance. Any writer will tell you that to write the best book they can, fiction or non-fiction, they draw from their personal experiences. It gives us a voice and a perspective that nobody else could possibly have. It makes sure that our work is unique and one-of-a-kind. It makes aspects of our novels more like autobiographies or memoirs, but that can be a problem if the experiences we are drawing from are from our past. And in the world of romance and love, you might well understand why my current love, our children, family and friends might not be thrilled with the idea of my writing about past love or less-than-stellar moments in our own relationship.
It’s a one-two punch that will be delivered to an unsuspecting victim, and I can’t help but fear the retaliation that might come. Could they respond with as much support and excitement as any writer might dream of? Sure. Will they? I don’t know, and for that reason, I have to be certain that I am willing to risk their retaliation for what very well could just be a pipe-dream.
So am I willing to risk that? I think the only way to really know is to try.
I’ll find the right timing (or I’ll make it), and I’ll share my news. Then I will give them whatever they need. It might be time, space, a copy of my manuscript, maybe even a breakdown of what is fiction and what is not, but whatever it is, I’ll either have to be willing to give that to them or give up on pursuing my writing any further.
If that seems like two very extreme options with no middle-ground, that’s because it is. Is there middle-ground? Of course there is. It’s lonely and offers less support, and ultimately could cost me something that I’m not sure I am willing to give up: true love. I can write about love until I am blue in the face, but if writing about it costs me the reality of it, I am not sure that would be worth it. I want to be able to be who I already am and a writer, and only those closest to me can allow me to do that.
So just like with the publishing process, I’ll start with a small step and simply tell them. I’ll deal with the next step when I know that I can start it without falling flat on my face.
Are you a writer who had to break the news to your family? Was it the news of your being a writer or your subject that was a surprise to them? How did it go? Any advice for me? Share your story or advise below!