I’m a closet writer and I like it that way.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of my writing or that I write really raunchy or provocative stuff. I don’t base my characters on people I know and could therefore offend or write anything that could reflect badly on me from my employer’s perspective.
But I like having my privacy, and that includes my writing. I like not being judged for my thoughts and the way that I express myself and more than anything, I just like having my private life and my writing life separate.
I guess that technically, I’m just halfway in the closet. My family and close friends know that I like to write, and my best friend does know about most of my stories, because I run them by her and she helps me figure out plotholes sometimes. She always tells me she can’t wait to read my stories, but I actually don’t know if I want her to.
I’ve always been a bit self-conscious about sharing my thoughts. I loved writing assignments, but I hated that my teachers would read and grade them. And being that bad with academic essays about history and literature, it doesn’t surprise me that I’m even worse with fiction writing.
I like that writing, creating characters, having them overcome difficulties and giving them their happy ending (or not) gives me an outlet to deal with everything in my life. Writing is a way for me to process and work through problems that maybe I can’t or don’t want to talk about with anyone. As such, I feel like I put my soul into my writing, and I feel that it’s just about the most intimate part of me, and I don’t want to share that, let the people in my life know my innermost feelings and deepest thoughts.
The thing is, the way I write is not the way I am. I’m not saying that I lie about myself in any way. I’m not a great writer, but I can be confident about myself, or at least portray my characters that way. I can make them fierce and courageous and whatever I want them to be, whatever I want to be.
But I’m an introvert, I don’t like hanging out with people all the time and I’m just really socially awkward. I don’t know if it’s a package deal that comes with introversion, but in any case, I’m also very aware of how people see me. I used to bend myself backwards trying to make people like me, and it took a long time and a lot of broken hearts for me to realize that I couldn’t keep doing that, especially to myself. I’m still worried that doing something will change how my family and my friends see me, and that has extended to my writing. I know I’m not doing anything wrong and that the worst they could say is that they don’t like my writing style, but I shudder at picturing myself waiting for them to finish a story of mine and see their thoughts all over their faces.
So I stay in my closet in real life and come out of it online. I once did post a prologue on a writing forum and got a lot of help from fellow writers. It made me realize that it’s so much easier to deal with criticism from strangers online than from people I’m close with. I can ignore hateful comments on the internet, but I wouldn’t be able to avoid reactions like that from my parents or my friends. Anonymous as I can be on the internet, I can be myself in a way that I’m not in my private life, and connect with other people in a way that I don’t have the courage to be otherwise.