When I first started writing The Claiming Words, I didn’t tell anyone about it. No one. It was such an impractical venture, I was embarrassed to admit that I’d suddenly decided to listen to the imaginary friends skipping around inside my head. Sure, after a few days, my husband began to wonder what the heck I was up to. Prior to beginning my novel, I barely touched the computer. He wondered why I’d suddenly become so attached to Microsoft Word.
“I’m writing a book. I know that sounds crazy. I probably won’t finish, so don’t tell anybody,” I told him.
“What’s it about?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I can’t tell you.”
And so I wrote on. Two months later, the first draft was nearly complete. My kids knew what I was up to, but they were sworn to secrecy. I finally told my mother, but that was it. Friends and other family members were left in the dark. I’ll bet some of my distant relatives still don’t know I’ve written a book.
Why all the secrecy?
When I first began writing, I kept my mouth shut because I was afraid I wouldn’t finish the book and I didn’t want to explain to everyone why I gave up. After I finished writing it, I continued to keep my silence because I was afraid I might never be published.
It was fear that kept me quiet. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being judged.
For some of us, our decision to become a writer might not surprise anyone. Mom might say, “She always followed me around, notebook in hand, even when she was just a little girl. I always knew she’d become a writer.”
But, for some of us (me), the decision to write a book comes from out of left field. I was thirty-nine when I began writing. I worked in accounting for crying out loud! I probably would have been voted “Least Likely to Write a Book.” Heck, even I was surprised by my decision!
When we do something that surprises everyone (even ourselves), we’re opening ourselves up to criticism, judgement, or even rejection. It’s fear that keeps us from telling the world, “Hey, I’m a writer!” And, it’s often fear that makes others react in a negative way.
“What do you know about writing a book?”
“Do you know how hard it is to get a literary agent?”
“I can’t understand why you spend so much time working on that book. If you don’t make any money, you’ll regret wasting all that time.”
“Now that you’re writing, you never have time for _______(fill in the blank–cooking, cleaning, PTA, the kids, gardening, scouting, etc).
You’ll find people in your life who are incredibly supportive. And, you’ll find a few people who aren’t. When you break the BIG NEWS to your friends and family–when you finally decide to tell them you’re writing a book–you’d better be prepared to deal with the naysayers.
When people you care about aren’t enthusiastic about your new venture, it hurts. It can chip away at your fragile self-confidence. It might even make you want to give up, but don’t! If you keep on writing, keep on pushing forward, you achieve something most people say they’d like to do, but never attempt–you will finish writing a book! There’s nothing sweeter than writing THE END on the final page of that first draft. Nothing sweeter than that feeling of accomplishment. Don’t deny yourself that wonderful feeling just because Cousin Crabby-Pants has a few doubts.
I promise you this–when your book is published (either traditionally or self-pubbed), Cousin Crabby-Pants will be the first to tell you how proud she is of your accomplishment. And if she isn’t? There will be plenty of people who will. But, most importantly, you’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll be able to bask in the glow of a job well-done. No one can take that away from you.