Thursday, October 21, 2010


A fellow blogger over at Obsessions of a Workaholic did a post today about her secrets. It got me thinking about what we reveal in our blog posts, and even more importantly, what we reveal about ourselves in our writing - consciously and subconsciously.

Fear is something I deal with daily. It's constantly nagging at my heels, keeping me on my toes. I constantly try to turn around and stare the beast in the eyes. Sometimes I win. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I think doing something drastic will kill the beast, when in reality it just gets larger in ways I didn't think possible.

For instance, I decided to write a book just for me. I told myself I didn't care what anyone thought of it. So I wrote it and published it despite stigmas existing against the method I chose. Finally, after the book has been out for a few months, I've realized how many secrets about myself are in that book. It's actually quite frightening. It's even more frightening when I read reviews and listen to some readers who didn't like the book or the character I portrayed.

That aside, I think it's important we put ourselves into our work and our blog posts. People respond to honesty in all its forms. Honesty creates artistic integrity. It's essential, in my opinion.

So. A few of my other secrets?

I don't understand politics. At all. If someone brings up presidential politics, I try to blend into the wall because I'll look stupid if I open my mouth.

I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to writing. I rely a lot on my gut instinct and what I've learned in the past. If you ask me how I write a book, I'll answer with something that sounds smart, but in reality I'm just winging it. Seriously, good writing is just lots and lots and lots and lots of practice.

Although I love them dearly, Scott and Davin scare me because they are amazingly intelligent and I respect them more than they know. I often feel like I'm a clownish figure fumbling in the corner when I'm around them.

I am deathly afraid of being forgotten.

I know some people are much more private than others. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, and because of the last secret I just shared, I tend to share more than I'm often comfortable with - both in my writing and online. Do you have any secrets you'd like to share today?


  1. We're all just faking it. I had a boss once, a PhD, who said to me one day that she'd just come out of a "power meeting" with a bunch of other PhDs and deans and power brokers, and during this meeting she had the sudden feeling that she wasn't an adult at all; she was a little kid dressed in grownup clothes, sitting at a table and talking like a grownup but it was all playacting, and everyone at the table was just pretending that they knew what they were doing but we're all just sort of still in Plato's cave, watching shadows on the wall and faking our way through life.

    Which is to say, Davin and I aren't that smart, and we love you, too. I have no idea what I'm doing when I'm actually writing; I can talk about it (at great length) afterwards, but during? It's all a blur.

  2. Aside from the Ohio State Buckeyes, I hate watching football. I find it incredibly boring. 30 seconds of action, 2 minutes of nothing, 30 seconds of action, rinse and repeat. So naturally, when I get together with a group of guys and the subject of football inevitably comes up, I get really, really quiet. I love to play football, I just can't watch it. Same with golf.

    Which brings me to my next point.

    I suck at golf. If I could switch my golf score with my bowling score, I'd be a pro at both because I golf a 300 and bowl a 61.

    One more thing: I'm a procrastinator. I'll tell you more about that later.

  3. I used to worry that my mother wouldn't like what I wrote. Then she read what I wrote, and she liked it, so to heck with that worry.

    I have no secrets. I am carefree and optimistic. I made fun of my more obsessive/anal behaviors in my novel. Anyone who reads it and knows me well will recognize the character.

    But okay, here are some things some people, even those who know me well, may not know:

    1. I believe in the existence of another "realm" beyond our five senses, with which I've had occasional connections.
    2. I fear death and would prefer to live forever, but as this is unlikely, I see no reason not to firmly believe in an afterlife.
    3. I pray twice a day without fail. Also, I am a paganistic pantheistic animist. Nature is my God.
    4. I try not to live in the 21st century whenever possible.
    5. I once saved the life of a person I could not stand.

    Which doesn't seem to relate much to writing fiction...well, I really don't worry about what I write about or what it says about me or what people think it says about me. Why should I? It's fiction. I made it up. If I were writing an autobiography, perhaps I'd fret a little.

    Then again, maybe not.

  4. Sometimes I think I'm really private, and other times I think I'm really public. What I've learned is that, as do we all but perhaps to a stronger and more intentional extent, I follow a Japanese house model of secrets.

    I'm extra open and friendly about a large portion of things.

    So that you never think to look for or ask about anything else.

    It's a distraction technique. A con. We all have a natural tendency to do something like it, but from what I've gathered I do it more and more deliberately than most.

    Nothing hidden up sleeves, see?

    But right in the palm of my hands?

    Some of those deeper secrets definitely end up in my writing. In fact, most of my writing in some ways represents some secret thought or conflict or question or even memory that I don't want to even really reveal to myself. The writing allows me to process it in denial.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that's *why* I write, but it's at least a side-effect of it.

    In fact, you've learned some things about me even in just what you'd read in Sublimation, whether you know it or not. Above and beyond the fact that I'm confusing. You presumably knew that already.

    I could share some secrets now, but you would all know they were the controlled secrets, not the real secrets. Or, even if I told you they were the real secrets, you would probably assume they were still controlled and not real.

    Which is oddly freeing.

    So, hey, here are a few.

    1) I have a non-verbal learning disability, which is a neurological condition on the so-called autistic spectrum without most of the social connotations. It means I can read and write fast, and learned how to young. It also means I can't do jack with spatial or visual thinking. That means sometimes I'm the smartest kid in the room and sometimes I'm the dumbest. That conflict tears me up several times a day.

    2) Almost every time the ambulance is on the way back from the hospital on an emergency run, I think to myself that I could have died and is it really worth missing out on the rest of my life with Rose to help someone with gas get the hospital faster?

    3) I've been good but-not-great and therefore missed the cut in so many artistic endeavors and professions that I'm terrified of the day that happens with my writing, and this fear sometimes paralyzes me and has directly led to at least two full burn-out episodes.

  5. I find that when I try to write by all the "rules" I always get stuck. When I finally say "screw it" and just write, that's when I really get going. Still trying to learn to consistently say "screw it."

  6. I create our own reality, I think, but use fate as a convenient scape goat. My secret is that I believe this literally rather than figuratively.


  7. Oops, bad proofreading. That last comment should begin with "we" and not "I"

  8. I'm an observer, and I am drawn to strange, fiery, creative, and often wounded people. I've always been that way. As a writer and blogger, it drives me NUTS because I want to tell the stories that I see unfolding among my friends and acquaintances and family members, because they are SO juicy and poignant and deep and sordid and fascinating, but I CAN'T, because they are other people's deeply personal business.

    Arrrrrg! If only I had no respect for other people's privacy, my blog would be so interesting. Seriously.

    Instead, I have to calm down, write out the best (or most terrible) things I observe, and transform them into lawsuit-proof works of fiction *cough cough* like my entry in Genre Wars *cough cough.* And it kills me when I have to tone things down from the reality because they are too unbelievable, or offensive, or sad *ahem.*

    My own secret? I'm too boring to reveal frightening secrets about myself in my characters. MCs based on myself are bland and passive.

  9. Yep, politics is one thing I hate to discuss. Fear is a big one for me. I discovered a few things about myself this past weekend when I went all by myself to a conference. I'm more of an introvert than I thought. I'm not observant and aren't writers supposed to be observant. I walk around with blinders on doing my thing and getting to my destination and fail to notice what's going on around me. Then I get the feeling that I'm on the outside looking in. Not participating, just there.

    If I'm doing a job, I have no problem engaging people in conversation such as when I volunteered at the conference for a couple hours. But I couldn't bring myself to go up and talk to complete strangers. I totally rely on extroverts to help ease me into conversations at parties. Unfortunately I didn't have extrovert friends who went and the one old friend I ran into didn't want the job. So, my secret I'd rather be alone that be lonely with a group of strangers.

    I may be extremely open on the internet, but in real life, I'm more private. I hate to talk about myself. I'm more of an observer and rather listen to someone else talk.

  10. I think we do know what we're doing when we're writing, you included, Michelle. We still have things to learn, but we know a lot too.

    My secret, I once participated in a three day "seminar" that a lot of my friends consider to be a cult. To this day, I still consider it the best thing I have ever done for myself, and it was what allowed me to write my first 100-page story.

  11. Domey, was that the Care Bears thing? Because that is a cult.

  12. This is totally at the front of my mind right now. Now that I know I'm actually going to be published (yay!) I'm like--oh crap, my book is very racy (erotic romance)--what are my family and friends going to think? Are they going to assume I'm revealing MY secrets and personal life? Especially when the MC is a social worker (my job before I was a stay at home mom.)

    I've told most of them they can't read it, but they rolled they eyes. My seventy-six year old grandfather said--I am a grown up, ya know. I know what sex is.

    *puts face in hands and shakes head*

    So we'll see what happens. As for revealing a secret--hmm...
    to my online friends, it'd probably come as a surprise that I'm painfully shy. Like I went to RWA Nationals and they had this huge book signing. I couldn't get up enough nerve to approach any of my favorite authors. I was so annoyed with myself.

  13. Scott: That's an awesome story, and one I can really relate to. I think deep down most of us feel the same way, and that's comforting.

    Rick: I absolutely HATE football. I get you on that one.

    Mizmak: Oh, all of that's interesting to know about you! Your #5 point would make a good story, I think. :)

    Nevets: Hah! You con artist, you! Thank you for sharing that. I think I can relate with you on the smartest and dumbest thing. That happens to me a lot.

    Tim: It's sooo important to do that!

    Sun: Wow! That's pretty deep, thank you! And no worries about the typos. :)

    Genie: Am I strange, fiery, and creative? I could be wounded...! I think you're not the only one who feels the way you do about your blog. We all have to censor ourselves everyday everywhere we go, I think. It's a good and bad thing, I think.

    You are not boring.

    Robin: I'm a complete introvert when it comes to real-life situations. I'm okay online, but put me in a group of people and I just want to run away or blend into the wall. I think we'd get along. :)

    Domey: Okay, you must tell me more about the cult. And okay, I do know what I'm doing, but it doesn't FEEL like I do. Half the time I just feel like I'm walking around a room running into things.

    Roni: I'm so excited about your book! I know what you mean about being painfully shy. I'm like that in those kinds of situations, too. I usually try to pair up with an extrovert and then they can break the ice on a lot of things. That's funny about your grandfather. I wonder if he'll really like it. :)

  14. (looks left)
    (looks right)
    (leans forward)

    "I like cheese."

  15. some famous person years ago said, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

  16. @Genie - If you're boring, you hide it really darn well.

    @Domey - People like throwing that word "cult" around, don't they?

    @Robin - I think you can be an introverted writer just fine. You can observe from hiding or observe small groups. I'm not a big groups of people person myself. You had blinders on. I would have had my phaser set to stun.

    Whatever that is.

  17. A good place to hide things is in plain sight. That’s what I think about the autobiographical elements that creep into my novels. My wife or daughter would be able to pick them out but no one else would. Real secrets never are written about. I think of the characters in my novels as alternate mes, what-ifs. None of them are me but they all grow out of me. People are welcome to read between the lines if they like and draw conclusions but unless I tell them they’re right all it is is guesswork.

    Blogs are a little different because it’s me talking. The way I handle that is to treat each post as an article and I stay within the parameters I set when I first conceived the blog: I write about things literary – that window on my life I’ve decided to open up – but the rest of my life I keep to myself. If I talk about a book my daughter bought me I might mention the fact she bought it me (small facts like that round me out) but that’s all I’d say besides she reads my posts and I know it pleases her to get the odd name-check.

  18. My secret is I hate revealing secrets! Seriously. Not gonna do it.

    But that's funny what you said about winging it...yesterday my 17-year-old son casually mentioned that he had a huge book report due and wasn't even planning on reading the book, just skimming it.

    I looked at him aghast and he smiled. "I'm just going to BS my way through it like I always do," he said. "It's worked for me so far."

    And yanno, it has! So what could I say to that?? It's really a life skill, isn't it? And he's mastering it at a young age. Ha!

    Now on the other hand, what you said about politics: I love, LOVE politics. I think what NPR did to Juan Williams is absolutely reprehensible and I think Obama is definitely a one-term POTUS.

    Drats, now I've gone and let a cat out of the bag after all. Yes, my deep, dark secret is that I'm a lone-wolf conservative in the seething liberal mecca of publishing-land. O_O

  19. I'm don't have 'secrets' per se, I'm just a very private person and so I tend to share on a 'need to know' basis, or, at least, as I become more comfortable with a person.

    I think my writing reflects many of the principles I hold to, for sure, but I wonder at how much I give's hard to look my stories and know what my average reader comes away with as far as who I am--I have a hard time imagining they care...

  20. Roni: I had some doubts about the reception of my novel as well, as it features a romantic relaionship between two men, and my mother is a conservative both politically and religiously. Turned out she loved it. Go figure. Once the book passed The Mother Test, I stopped fretting about what anyone else thought, 'cause that was the big one for me. Good luck and congrats on being published!

    -Alexandra MacKenzie

  21. Ha ha Miss Sharp, try being the libertarian!

    Actually, I am very impressed, this year, people in publishing/authors seem to have gone out of their way not to post inane, vapid political crap on their blogs. It is very refreshing. It's like a little oasis in a sea of blah.

  22. John: Yeah, and that's the beast nipping at my toes...I keep trying to swat it down. Hah!

    Jim: I agree with you that REAL secrets are never written about or told. I do have those. I don't tell anyone about them. :)

    Miss Sharp: Aww, well I'm glad you didn't feel like you had to reveal anything here. Your avatar is a good indication that you are secretive, hehe.

    See, what you said about the Obama thing...totally over my head. It's embarrassing.

    Bridget: I think many of us are pretty private when it comes to certain things. I think as writers it's good for us to be a little open about ourselves. It makes readers a bit more comfortable, I think, if they go in search of us.

  23. There are nights I wake up in a cold sweat, horrified at the things I've let slip into print, in both fiction and nonfiction. I am a very private person. But I am tricked by the act of writing into revealing things I would never say in person. Not even while drunk.

  24. Tara: Interesting how that works, huh? I think as writer we are basically insane.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.