I was never any good at keeping secrets. I was always the first who needed to share whatever confidential information had just been given to me, be it juicy gossip or what a sibling was getting for their birthday that year. I couldn’t hold it in now matter how hard I tried, earning me the appropriate nicknames of blabbermouth and tattletale.
But working on a novel that would one day be known as The Good Girl – that was a secret I managed to keep.
In fact, much of my writing career – from the time I was eleven years old and would sneak off to my bedroom to write in private – has been a covert affair. Writing has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and yet growing up none of my friends knew. Even my closest family members, my parents and sisters, assumed it was a hobby that tapered off over the years, as did my obsession with the New Kids on the Block and Barbie dolls.
But it did not. In fact, it moved to a more sequestered place in my life as I aged, a secret I managed to keep from even my husband for a while. Why? you might ask. I’ve tried to answer this question myself many times, and though I can only speculate, it comes down to one thing really: enormous self-doubt.
I’m a very pragmatic person; I always have been, I always will be. Why bother writing manuscript after manuscript, just to have them take up space on the computer’s hard drive or hidden in a box in my basement so no one would see? That didn’t seem very practical. From a young age, I knew the likelihood of publishing a book was slim. I didn’t think it would happen; there was always a disparaging voice in the back of my head taunting: you’re never going to publish this book.
And yet I couldn’t stop myself from writing because it was something I wanted to do, something I needed to do.
At some point, my husband discovered that I was working on a manuscript. And still, when I sent The Good Girl queries off to literary agents, I made sure to get the mail before he did so he didn’t see the mass of rejection letters being sent my way.
And yet no one else knew, not friends, my parents or my sisters. No one knew until after I’d sold the novel to Harlequin MIRA, in fact, some six years after I sat down and began writing the first page. They looked at me confusedly when I announced I’d be publishing a book. They were surprised to discover I still liked to write, or in some cases, to discover that I liked to write at all.
But they were thrilled!
If I had it to do over again, would I tell anyone and everyone about my passion for writing, about my work-in-progress which might one day be published? I don’t know. Probably not.
But now that the cat’s out of the bag, I love sharing this experience with the world.