Writing in the closet?

It’s kind of weird to work so hard on something that you have to be so careful about discussing with people. I’ve been writing for years and I’m finally getting to a point where I’m ready to publish and start making an actual thing out of this and I’m so excited! I want to be able to share it with everyone! And yet…

I don’t really keep it a secret. All the people closest to me know. But of the people who know, very few are people I would feel comfortable actually reading my book. And then every time I meet someone new (or run into someone old), there’s that moment where you have to decide if you’re going to tell them.

I am a Mormon.

Not an ex-Mormon. Not a kinda-Mormon who doesn’t go to church and drinks alcohol sometimes. No, I’m a full, bonafide Mormon. I go to church every week, I keep the Word of Wisdom, I pay tithing, the whole nine yards. So my choice of genre for writing is a little odd. And I can’t really tell everyone about it. It gets mixed reactions and I just don’t like opening that can of worms.

Example. My nephew recently returned from a two-year LDS mission. It is tradition for newly returned missionaries to speak in church, and then afterward there’s usually a little open house so everyone can come over and eat food and talk to the young missionary that no one has seen in two years.

My nephew gave his “homecoming talk” in his ward this past Sunday. I used to go to that ward with my sister’s family, and I know a lot of their friends from when they lived there, so of course when I went to hear him speak, I saw plenty of people that I know. One was a former neighbor of my sister’s. As I was leaving the building after the meeting, he stopped me to say hello. “How are you? What have you been doing?”

My 10-year-old niece was with me. She’s the daughter of my other sister, cousin of the missionary, so she didn’t really know the guy I was talking to. Now, I haven’t really spoken to my niece about my writing, but I have told both of my sisters, and my sister told her daughter. So as I’m talking to this Mormon acquaintance, my niece pipes in and says, “She wrote a book!”

Oh great. Thanks, Madi.

He says, “You did? That’s great!” And proceeds to ask me about it. So awkward, I didn’t know what to say! I got out of it without having to be too specific. I did have to say it was a romance. I left out the “sexually explicit, polyamorous gay” part. He said, “Is it published?” and I said no, but I’m working on it. He said, “Well, tell us when it comes out, we’ll buy it and read it!”

I had to say, “Oh no, you don’t want to read it. Trust me.”

I hate that. I wish I had written a book that I could tell EVERYONE about. When I announced on Facebook, I had to weed through my contacts so the post only showed up for people I thought would be friendly to it. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I could announce to everyone I’d ever known so that they would all buy my book and read it and support me. But I can’t do that.

I know this is so miniscule compared to what LGBTQA people go through in their lives. Who can I tell? Who can I not tell? Constantly having to guard parts of themselves and be so careful about who knows what. It must be exhausting. I’m proud of you all, really.

Any other writers out there who know this feeling? What do you do when you want to tell everyone how excited you are every time you reach a writing milestone, but you can’t? I’m so thankful for all my online friends in the m/m community who get it. I can share my victories with them but the real world is a whole other story.

2 thoughts on “Writing in the closet?

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  1. I’ve actually kept my writing a secret from everyone (except my husband, daughter and BFF). It wasn’t so much the genre as the fact that I wanted to make sure I could do it before telling anyone, because if you tell anyone you’re writing a book they get all excited and are gonna ask about it once a day and put pressure on you. And I already have very high expectations of myself, I didn’t need the added pressure. It’s not that I’m afraid to fail. It’s just if I do, I want to do it in private.

    And maybe part of it was the genre. Not the LGBT part (everyone knows I’m bi, and have accepted who I am. They filled my FB-feed with rainbows on my birthday 🙂 ), but the romance part. Romance is a genre that’s looked down upon and I didn’t wanna deal with it.

    But it takes up such a big part of my life and when people ask what I do all day, I say “Oh, this and that” and they think I’m Mrs. Lazy Pants when I’m actually working my ass off.

    But when I went to Sweden on vacation now, I said screw it and told everyone. It was a relief. And I decided I wasn’t gonna care about what people thought and if anyone had questioned my choice of genre (which they didn’t, they know me after all) I would have told them “Well, write your own darned book then”

    But I’m not religious and neither are my family and friends, so I didn’t have that added complication. But I know what it feels like to keep it a secret, and I’m so happy I don’t have to anymore. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s also kind of weird, even with people who aren’t Mormon, because I don’t think people outside the genre actually know it exists. So when I say “I wrote a gay romance”, it’s just so far out of left field to them. They don’t know it’s a thriving genre, that I’ve been reading it for almost ten years, that there are thousands of people who read it, there’s a huge community and I’ve made many online friends through it. They don’t know there are respected publishing houses that publish only in this genre. That there’s an annual convention. That when I say I’m self-publishing, I actually have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing. Who my audience is, how to market to it, what they want to read. That self-pubbed authors do well in this genre. I’m proud of what I’ve done/am doing when it comes to the people in this community, but I know that people outside the community are like, “Oh, well…good for you.” I think most people I’ve told probably think what I write is porn.

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