Here's my secret: I've been living two separate lives for the past three years.
In life #1 I am a 9 to 5 marketing professional at a consumer products company. I go to the gym after work. I go to happy hour with my work friends. I complain about Mondays and say awkward things like "at least it's Wednesday" and "thank God it's Friday" while making small talk in the elevator.
In life #2 I am a YA writer. I write on the weekends and nights. I dream about my characters and what they might say. I have CPs and Beta readers and a blog about writing. I chat about rejections and say awkward things like "Is this paragraph too voicey?" and "I think I just saw my MC in a Dunkin Donuts."
These worlds rarely cross, because I've worked hard at keeping my writing life secret from my personal/professional life.
When I did (on rare occasion) yack to someone outside of my closest inner circle about my writing, they looked at me like I had a pickle growing out of my forehead. So I told myself that I had to keep my writing life secret because non-writers just wouldn't understand. Along with about five hundred other excuses.
But here's the thing - they were all just excuses. The real reason I never talked about writing is because I was afraid. Afraid that my book would never see the light of day. Afraid that people would probe too deep and see that I was only an aspiring writer. Afraid that people would think I was wasting my time.
And yet I wrote a book. I sat down and wrote an entire flipping novel. How is that something to be ashamed of?
The answer is that it's not. If you have the courage to put yourself out there, to write a book, and to just plain try YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Also, YOU ARE NOT AN ASPIRING WRITER. If you wrote or are writing a book, then you are, in fact, a writer.
I'm not sure how many of you out there are like me, but just in case you're out there I thought I'd take a second to remind you of what you've done. You have written a book. That means that you have penned over 60,000 words of awesome, and probably way more than that if you count all the edits and revisions. You have given hundreds of hours of your free time to achieving a personal goal. Instead of talking about your dream, you actually went out and made it happen. GOOD FOR YOU! That is AMAZING. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.
About a month ago I officially announced my pub news on Facebook, for all of my colleagues and non-writing friends to see. It was my version of a coming out, or the FB equivalent of slapping a sonogram picture up to announce you're eating for two. The response was unbelievably positive, and it made me realize how silly I have been.
Nobody cared about agents, pub houses, or even that it was getting published. Sure, there may have been one or two pickle-on-the-forehead looks, but overwhelmingly people were congratulatory, excited for me, and even giddy. The details didn't matter - all they cared about was the fact that I wrote a book. I WROTE A BOOK.
How silly was I to keep that to myself all this time when I could have been celebrating?
So remember, folks: if you wrote a book, you are a success. Period. And if you love this crazy craft of writing, hopefully you will write another one and another one after that. Because it's what you love to do. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
Congrats, and happy writing!