Rowling and Meyer: Writing in Secret By D.L. King

Rowling and Meyer: Writing in Secret

By D.L. King http://dlkingwriter.blogspot.com/

Closet writing. It happens more than you think. Just like an undercover FBI agent hiding their veiled career, many writers cloak their work as if they were planning a covert operation instead of writing a novel. It sounds humorous, yet many writers write in secret and this phenomenon is worth some investigation and discussion.

So why keep your writing to yourself? Why not share your excitement from the start and proclaim your envied position as an artist? The answers are fairly straightforward:

1) Creativity is very personal and often artists are shy and delicate creatures.

2) The artist’s life is easily misunderstood by the general population.

3) Many artists wade against an opposing societal current that treats with derision not only the content they’ve chosen but also the very nature of their profession. Writing fiction isn’t your typical 9-5, and by many, isn’t even seen as work.

Furthermore, creativity can be a fragile beast, a beast that needs nurturing. That nurturing can be provided either internally or externally, depending on the individual’s needs, but the beast is demanding and must be fed. And coming to terms with the ramifications of art is something every writer must face if they are to succeed. For some it is a fast process of self-acceptance, but for others it can be a slow and agonizing evolution.

One of the initial hurdles of this progression is overcoming self-doubts. Or the: ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘This business is tough.’ ‘What will so and so think,’ phase. Then comes facing outside obstacles: “Writer? Is that why we sent you to college?” “Good idea, but I think I read that story before,” etc. But with an internal battle already waging in the mind and because there can be many more forces that hamper creativity than foster it, many beginning artists shy away from exposing themselves to outside judgment for fear their sensitive vision may crushed.

Take for example two of the bigs: Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling.

When Meyer was writing Twilight she didn’t tell anyone, not even her husband. She would simply sneak off to the computer and go into deep cover mode.

“I was really protective and shy about it because it’s a vampire romance. It’s still embarrassing to say those words — it sounds so cheesy,” she confessed. “It’s not like I was going to tell him (her husband) that I was writing this story about vampires, because he was just going to be even more perturbed.” (http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2007-07-12/news/charmed/2/)

The person who finally broke Meyer’s silence was her older sister, Emily Rasmussen, and Meyer ended up sending her sister the manuscript piece by piece. Rasmussen fell in love with Twilight and encouraged her to find a publisher.

And then there’s J.K. Rowling. For years Rowling was also a closet writer and not many people knew of her literary endeavors. Not even her parents. When one of her pupils discovered she was writing a book, Rowling felt embarrassed and tried to trivialize her writing. “I think I said, ‘No it’s just a hobby.'” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0700-guardian-hattenstone.htm

She also once told a friend she was writing a novel, and the friend’s eyes glazed over.  “I think she thought I was deluding myself, that I was in a nasty situation, and had sat down one day and thought, ‘I know, I’ll write a novel.’ She probably thought it was a get-rich-quick scheme.” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0700-guardian-hattenstone.htm

But as the story goes, she told her sister Dianne about the concept of Harry Potter. And Dianne is said to have instantly loved it and became a huge supporter and finally encouraged J.K. to send the manuscript to publishers. “It’s possible if she had not laughed, I would have set the whole thing to one side,” admitted Rowling, “but Di did laugh.” (http://www.famous-women-and-beauty.com/j-k-rowling-biography.html)

So…confession: Personally, in the beginning, I didn’t want to tell people that I was writing either. I was on the cusp of quitting before I even started, thinking that I’d never accomplish anything, and that most everyone I knew would assume I was on some silly venture.

If anyone needed some external nurturing, it was me. So, like Meyer and Rowling, I only told a few people whom I knew would respond with nothing but support. And that was key. Knowing that someone is cheering you on, whether it’s yourself or someone else, kindles that flame of self-confidence. So that eventually you can step out your door and say: “Hello, world! I’m a writer!”

Later, in addition to telling those first few wonderful people, this gave me enough assurance to join a critique group. And having that extra anchor was fantastic, as the group, too, knew the writer’s plight. There were some bumps on the way as some people gave me the evil-critical-eye. But it wasn’t long before I was known as “a writer.”

As Thomas Dreier once said: “The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are.” To see this principle in action, one of the greatest ways to find out what you’re projecting is by examining the gifts you receive. As I started to tell more people about writing, going to classes and conferences, and meeting with editors, etc., I noticed that for Christmases and birthdays I started getting more bookstore gift cards and books on writing/grammar.

But finally the ultimate present I received was a pair of earrings in the shape of matching books. I was shocked and closed the box. The giver wondered if I didn’t like the gift, and I told them: “No, I do, but why did you think to give these to me?” (Silly, I know.) They furrowed their brow and said, “Uh, because you’re a writer, duh.” I scratched my head and smiled. “Oh, I guess I am.”

From that day on I was able to put my secret-agent-writer-FBI-badge away and like Rowling and Meyer, acknowledge those first few supportive people who nurtured my artistic endeavourers and built my confidence sky-high.

As an avid writer by day and werewolf by night, D.L. King is a YA and picture book writer currently querying literary agencies for representation.

Keep an eye out for D.L. Her ideas are fresh and I think we will be seeing much more of her in the near future!

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About Tymothy Longoria

Tymothy Longoria has been described as a writer with a flair for the dramatic (whether this is true still remains to be seen). He is a fan of all things fantastic, metal music, black t-shirts, and aligns himself with geeks, nerds, and all manner of monsters, and is an ardent, optimistic supporter of his fellow creatives. He has written several short stories for the online macabre zine Underneath The Juniper Tree and in 2012 was awarded Debut Author of the Year by Twisted Core Press for 'Envy', his contribution to the Seven Deadly Sins Anthology. He is currently editing his full-length dark fantasy retelling, Revenants: Book One of The Stories. Fairy tales? If only. Legends will be reborn. Tymothy calls Texas home, where he lives with his wife, two children, and a cat called ThunderCat aka Kitty PawKitty. He is represented by Bree Ogden of Red Sofa Literary. View all posts by Tymothy Longoria

11 responses to “Rowling and Meyer: Writing in Secret By D.L. King

  • D.L. King

    Thanks again, Tymothy, for featuring me! I enjoyed discussing this topic, as this issue affects many of us within the industry.

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  • Paul Joseph

    This post is brilliant. And by brilliant, I mean you nailed every single nail right on the head. If I could go back to two years ago, I think I’d be a closet writer. Unfortunately, my stupid personality gets me so excited about everything I attempt to do, I just had to go sharing it with the world. So, in a way, I have nobody to blame but myself for many of the judgments and ridicule I’ve endured.

    There are people who define careers by the amount of money you make. I, however, define a career by the number of hours one puts in. If you look at my total, as well as the totals of just about every writer I know, it’s a full-time gig in every sense of the word. Yes, I went to college. Yes, I went to graduate school. And yes, I spent a number of years on a different career path – but guess what – it didn’t work.

    People are always telling me they are worried how I’ll react if writing doesn’t pan out the way I’d like. My response: you mean like how teaching didn’t pan out the way I had hoped???? People act like we aren’t aware of the risk involved. If anyone doubts a writer, it pales in comparison to the self-doubt we battle regularly.

    I haven’t passed up opportunities in order to pursue writing; on the contrary, I was provided with time, and opted to use it productively, rather than playing online games and eating junk. Okay, I still eat the junk, but I’m not so into the games any longer.

    This post explains exactly why I keep to myself. I’m tired of defending my choices, and I don’t think I need to do this, either. I will admit, it would be oh so nice to make friends with some writers in real life – so that I could have face to face time with someone who gets it. But, those relationships can’t be forced; they must evolve naturally.

    • Tymothy Longoria

      What a very important reply to a very important post. You are on the money. Right on it. When I was working in a machine shop and needed measurements to be precise, I mean within a 64th, and I’d get it right I would say proudly, “Money.” That is what I’m saying about this. Money.

      Matter of fact the other day, I was having a Twitter discussion about previous jobs. The fellow writer said he “sells auto parts”. It made me think today, to write a post about that-that in this choice to be a writer, to be a full-time writer many of still work. But we work AT being a writer. Being a better writer. When we decide to come out of the writing closet-it IS a big deal. That means we’re closer than we had started in believing in ourselves, in our talent. In our dream. We writers, come from all backgrounds. By something, somehow, something inside-we are led here.

      Some are/were teachers. Some sell auto parts. Me, I worked in corrections for seven years. Point? Paul more than likely never wanted to be a corrections officer. D, I’m pretty sure she was never interested in becoming an auto parts salesperson and I well, maybe I did think about teaching at one point in my life or another.

      We all arrive HERE. To Writer.

      We understand each other. We do.

      And that, my Friends is the basis for any great relationship.

      Thank you, Paul, you inspire me. Thank you, D.L.

    • D.L. King

      Paul: Thanks for your comments, and I’m glad that the post struck a chord with you. Social networking has been really great with meeting other writers, and I’m glad that you’re getting online support. 🙂

      Mindy: Thanks for stopping by and also for your comments. I liked your mirror and seven course meal analogy. 🙂

      Tymothy: Really glad the post inspired you too. 😉

  • Mindy Ruiz

    Amazing post, D.L. Writing is like standing in front of a mirror with your clothes puddled around your ankles after a seven course meal, you get the good, the bad and the ugly. And, every now and again, you get perfection. Could be a simple sentence or an elegantly written post. Thanks so much for sharing and thanks Tymothy for giving D.L. the opportunity to share.

  • Jennifer Bosworth

    I loved what you had to say in this post. A big part of me wishes I’d been a stealth writer, but I declared my career intent when I was 7, and then kept declaring it until I finally sold a book at age 31. During the intervening years (and even now, to tell the truth) I met with so much negativity and doubt and scorn that I eventually did stop telling anyone about my writing. If I’d written under the radar, maybe things would have been easier. And it would have been nice to phone the doubters one day and say, “Oh, funny thing, I just sold a book to a major publisher. How about that?”

    • D.L. King

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I wish the circumstances weren’t what they are for so many of us. It can be so tough to navigate the waters of an artistic career. I commend you for declaring your profession @ age seven, but so sorry you had to endure scorn. But like you said, you came out on top for being kind to yourself and believing. And those people are always the winners. 🙂

    • Tymothy Longoria

      Something we can all associate with, indeed! Thanks for your comment! I am glad you took something away from it. D.L. really struck a great note.

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