Sunday, April 01, 2007

Living your dreams, confronting your fears, enjoying life

Okay, I’m going to put this on the internet for the whole world to see if they choose and hopefully, it will help me to confront my fears. I have no excuses to hide anymore.

Feel free to share your fears, too. With a team effort, maybe we can confront them together.

I’m a shy person. I never know what to say though my family wouldn’t agree and my friends would say I’m likeable, even gregarious. Writing has always been my dream but with those fulfillments come other problems.


I don’t like to talk about myself. I’d rather listen and with some people I’ve learn they’re just the opposite. They want to talk, they don’t want to listen. So it’s easy for me not to “fight” for that space and just not talk. Silly, I know, but true.

As a writer, that’s just one of my fears to confront. Self-promotion. Actually going into a bookstore and talking to a stranger about buying my book. Fear of failure, fear of bad reviews, of no reviews, of judgment, of the answer to this question: what if I can’t write another one?

Well, guess what? I have succeeded. Anyone who has ever accomplished their goal has succeeded, whether it’s losing ten pounds, getting a college education, buying a new home, or starting a new business. Whatever you’ve done, the first step to success is doing. Be proud of yourself for accomplishing your goal and be proud of yourself if you’re still in the doing phase. Just trying is an accomplishment.

I can write and I will continue to do so. It is my passion, and even if I never publish again, I will have succeeded at what I set out to do.

Another fear is the fear that (some) people look down on romance writers (though I think we all need more love in our lives, including romance). Why do some people scoff at love and romance? Isn’t love what makes the world go around? Money may be the dominating factor, but without love, this world would not have gotten to where it’s going and without love, this world is going where it is…downhill.

Where am I going with this? I have a problem I’ve been hiding from but a problem that is hindering my writing career. My boss, whom I have worked for for almost nine years, does not know that I am a writer. Better yet, I am an author with two published works. Because of my small town, only a select few individuals and my family know.

My boss does not like people to pursue other careers, especially ones that affect his public image. Without saying what kind of public image I’m trying to protect here, let’s just say it’s a pretty important political image.

I feel this is hindering my writing career, but I can’t afford to quit. I can’t go to the local library and tell them about myself, I can’t have an article in the local paper, and I can’t market myself in the way I’d like to market myself.

Though I don’t think my job would be in danger if he knew, I fear other repercussions.

Why do I feel shameful? If I wrote thrillers, John Grisham novels or Stephen King bestsellers, would I feel this shame? What’s wrong with romance? Conflict, action, suspense…passion, love, working things out…there’s nothing wrong with romance. I even had a family member say “Oh, you write that smut stuff.”

No, actually, I don’t but if I did, who cares? I’m fulfilling my passion in life, following my dreams, and that is something a lot of us have been trained to think we can’t do these days. Like our mission in life is to be in this box, living the life you’re supposed to live, being the good little girl you’re supposed to be. You go to work, that’s just how life is. NOT having and fulfilling dreams!

So what’s my point in all of this? I am seeking opinions. Do I tell my boss, or not? Do I risk he find out without my telling him or do I continue to hide? I have two bosses, actually. My supervisor does not appreciate the joy of reading and I won’t mention how I think her response would be to my news.

Should I tell my boss and if so, how do I go about it? Do I go into his office and say, “There’s something I wanted to tell you before you find out elsewhere and I’d like your permission to market myself.”

And for those who think I’m crazy for even questioning all of this, you’d just have to know my boss and the people I work with to understand my dilemma and if you’ve never had to worry about these types of people, you’re lucky!


Marty said...

I feel your pain...even though everyone at my job knows I write and I did a booksigning in the gallery, I still have a couple issues. One, the president wants me (and a couple others) to proofread everything that goes out of the school, and sometimes slings a barb my way about 'writing on company assets'. The other is that it IS letting someone glimpse what's only been in your mind--I am still pretty uncomfortable talking with my work friends about the book. The majority of them are artists and want to know if my creative process is anything like theirs, lol. It's all personal and stuff.

Question: why can't you approach the library without talking to your boss? When you're off the clock, he has no say over what you do (I know influence can stretch a long way). So what if he finds out from somebody else? He'll be amazed he didn't know, because your job performance hasn't suffered.

Kissa Starling said...

I have a similar situation- I work in education. For this reason I keep it to myself. Only my immediate family knows. I haven't had the promotion problem yet. I guess I'll face it when I get there. This is s difficult decision- good luck!

Eden Bradley said...

First, you don't need his permission for anything you do outside of work hours, so I really hope you don't phrase it like that to him, because then he'll think he has that sort of power over you!
If you write under a pen name, then that should help. You don't need to show your picture around. But even if you do a book signing or other public appearance, again, it is none of your boss's business. As long as you won't lose your job over it, try to put those worries on the back burner and do what you need to do. No one should be allowed to stand in the way of your dreams, and he can only do so if you allow him to. By staying in the shadows when you need to promote your work, simply because of what your boss may think, you've handed him your personal power. Maybe it's time to take it back.
The romance genre is sometimes looked down upon, and we have to fight to re-educate people. Romance is no longer the bodice-rippers of the 70's. Romance novels are now complex stories that include a romance. And since romance makes up 50% of all paperback sales worldwide, we must be doing something right.
As a writer, you are getting involved in a billion dollar industry, and you just can't argue with those kinds of numbers. And even if people still do, you are pursuing your dream-and how many people are actually brave enough to do that? Let them try to write a 90,000 word novel-not so easy, is it?
I truly hope you choose to live your life as you see fit-it's really none of your boss's business, as long as you don't decide to become a hooker or something-and I'm pretty sure that option is not on the table. ;)

MK Mancos/Kathleen Scott said...

I work in a hospital, so it's a relatively conservative atmosphere. I know, it's funny how a place that knows the nitty gritty of the human body would be squemish about love and sex, but there you go. All my bosses know I write, some of them even congratualate me everytime I publish something and always make a point of letting me know how proud they are. Others never mention it one way or the other. They know I write under pseudonymns, and maybe that helps. But they also have known since I started working there 14 years ago that I was working toward publication and in a way, they've made the journey with me. I think sometimes people are awed with knowing someone with the potential of being "famous" some day. And it helps. Your boss might be the same way. That said, no matter how long you've worked for him, don't let his opinion of your work and your dream squelch you. Small town or not. No one and I mean no one has a right to dictate that fact you write and what you write, or what makes you happy. I'm sorry to say this, but if push comes to shove and he doesn't want you to write or gives you a hard time, you can always go REALLY public with the information and how he handled the situation. Isn't Freedom of Speech a constitutional right? Good luck to you. It's hard give advice to someone when you don't really know the situation or have walked in their shoes. I sympathize with you, but I also want to see you happy and to keep persuing your dream.


Gina Ardito said...

I'm extremely proud of what I do and what I've accomplished. My direct superiors at work not only know, they've all bought my book and brought it to the office for me to sign. (There's a standard joke of booking time in our office's conference room for me to hold signings for my co-workers--on a lunch hour, naturally!)

I agree with Eden that by hiding who you are and what you love, you give him power that he shouldn't have.

Perhaps, he might surprise you and support you in what you do!

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I agree with everyone here. This is part of your life, why should you hide it?

My advice would be to examine any work contract you have, or company policy. If you've signed any agreement not to engage in any other business activity outside of the office or in any practice that is in some way prohibited, you may still have legal rights. If you haven't agreed NOT to be a romance writer and signed any documents stating such, then your boss has no leg to stand on even if it bothers him. You have a right to a life outside of your day job and if your boss doesn't agree with that, that's his problem. If he's shocked, appalled or gives you a hard time, threaten him with legal action.

I know that sounds harsh, but you seem afraid of this man. If that's the case, you need a different job. Picture the worst case scenario of what might happen if everyone found out about your books, and plan for it so nobody can surprise you. Then let the chips fall where they may and to heck with anyone who can't handle it.

Anonymous said...

There's something deeper you need to ask yourself, and it's something all the comments have touched on: What about you? Your dreams, your goals? Your integrity?

Life is hard enough without having to pretend parts of yourself don't exist.

You can't afford to lose your job.

Can you afford to keep it?

Thirty years from now, are you going to be happy that you comprimised who and what you are (for that's exactly what you're doing) for someone else's convenience?

I mean, we're not talking a mother sacrificing for her child. We're talking about a job, and the lucky thing with jobs, is that there's always another one around the corner. But dreams, especially dreams you've worked so hard to turn into reality, Emma, don't sell yourself out for people who can't support you.

Yes, the romance industry is sniggered at. Big deal. To a racist, coloured people are something to snigger at, to the sexist, a woman is a joke. Didn't stop Civil Rights or Women's Lib.

And I know they're not exactly the same thing as writing, but they're still dreams that someone thought could be reality. They're still milestones we fought to acheive.

Think of what you do: you spend your days thinking about love, creating it, sharing it with others.

And I think that's amazing, and I think that's worth shouting about.

Someone once said, "When we step out into the unknown, we must believe one of two things will happen. We will land on something solid, or we will learn how to fly."

In the end, none of us can really tell you what to do, only that little voice inside of you can do that. But I will say this: when you choose to honour yourself, you can't go wrong. Good things will happen - heck, Fantastic things will happen.

Good luck and keeps us updated.

Angelle Trieste said...

Don't you use pen name?

Ultimately you have to decide if it's worth risking your regular paycheck job for your writing career. I can't comment on it since everyone's situation's unique, and I don't know what yours is. Nonetheless good luck no matter what you decide to do. :)

Portia Da Costa said...

I'm lucky, I work from home now. But in the early days, I was still in a full time job. I was a bit nervous about telling my boss about what I wrote, but in the end, it turned out that the whole department was v. supportive. It even got promoted in the Departmental Newsletter that I was the author of erotica! Everybody thought it was great!

However, your situation is very different, and much more delicate... I wish I knew how to advise you.

Hang in there, girl!

Carol Ann Erhardt said...

Oh, Emma, I feel your pain in so many ways...especially the shy part. Many people think I'm aloof because of my shyness. I've had to work hard at trying to be the first to speak, to smile. It's hard.

I haven't had the guts to promote myself in any venues where I might be able to do a booksigning. The fear of rejection comes from our childhood...the fear of doing something that will upset someone, that we will not be liked or loved.

As for your boss, I can truly understand the need to keep your job and that paycheck which many of us (me included) need in order to survive. Until we make that New York Times bestseller list, we will have to work to support our writing! But to allow yourself to be intimidated by your supervisors is wrong. Unless you are doing something that is a conflict of interest, then you shouldn't let them control what you do on your personal time.

You are a great writer! You have what it takes to succeed. And you work very hard at it.

I think you should forget about telling him. It has nothing to do with him. If he finds out, so what? You haven't done anything that interferes with your job. And you haven't been writing about him!

Go after what you want. Sometimes I put roadblocks in my own path that keeps me from doing what I want. For instance, I fear that if I ask the manager of a store if I can do a booksigning, they will reject me. So I don't do it. That's stupid! I must overcome my fear. So what if I'm rejected? It's nothing personal and I have to learn not to take it that way. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...and all that.

So, I guess I'm giving both of us a pep talk!

Let's go for it, my friend!

Scarlett Sanderson said...

Emma, it seems like everyone has offered a lot of advice ((hugs)).

I, too, am a shy person, and no one at work knows I write romance. You have to do what feels comfortable for you at the time.