on talking about writing

I used to be a stealth writer.

I kept my habit between myself, a couple of notebooks, and a subfolder of My Documents. I couldn't tell anyone what I was doing, because it's not like I was a real writer. If word got around, then people might ask me about what I was working on. And I might have to eventually admit it if I couldn't finish.

Thinking back to those days makes me wonder if my secrecy hampered my writing a little. If I was holding out on even the people closest to me, then how seriously was I taking those first, awkward false starts? By worrying so much about looking foolish if I failed, was I giving myself an easy out?

Eventually, after several abandoned book attempts, I mentioned writing to my husband and a couple of sympathetic friends. Then I told my family. These days, I've actually let people read a few of my chapters, which would have been unthinkable a year ago. Sometimes it even comes up in conversations with new acquaintances.

Talking about writing isn't as awful as I'd expected it to be. I've gotten some interesting questions, and the occasional bit of ego-flattering enthusiasm. A few folks have even confided in me about their own writing projects. Of course there was also the guy who, after a friendly chat about structure and technique, didn't even pretend to hide his disdain once I said I was working on a fantasy novel. But you know what? Screw that guy. He was boring, anyway.

I'm still not entirely comfortable with it as a topic of conversation. It feels presumptuous, and that fear of not finishing (and having everyone know it) is still around. I'm trying to be brave, though. And I'm closer now to finishing a book than I've ever come before.

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