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Is the Book You’re Writing a Secret?

top secret

My mom is in her sixties and just finished her first children’s book. None of my siblings, or even my father, knew she wanted to write a book, nonetheless wrote one. She wrote and even illustrated the entire thing in secret. I only found out about it when she called to say she had a deal and was getting published. That was a shock since I thought I was the writer in the family. haha.

I was shopping in a small speciality store the other day and struck up a conversation with the owner. After telling her I was a writer and working on my first novel, she told me about her sixteen year old son, who is also writing a book. He is 300 pages in (good for him!) but he still won’t tell her what his book is about. He will only share bits and pieces with her. When she asks more questions, he clams right up.

I totally get it. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book for a long time because I learned my lesson when I did open up to the wrong people. It always went one of two ways: either they listened to my idea and then offered their own “suggestions” and advice on my story, or they would start poking holes in my idea before I had time to think it through.

Another reason I kept my book a secret was that I didn’t want anyone to know in case I didn’t finish… Or in case I finished but didn’t get published…Or in case I finished and got published, but then no one wanted to buy it. Basically, in case I failed.

But probably the biggest reason I kept writing a book a secret was because I didn’t want to answer the dreaded follow up question of: “Oh cool. So what’s it about?”

UGH!

I have not perfected my “elevator pitch” yet so I stumble through this part painfully, trying to balance telling a little bit but keeping it interesting and mysterious so they want to read it. So awkward.

Now I have no problem telling people I’m writing a book, but I keep what the book is about secret. I only share that its a work of fiction and young adult. I hate trying to explain it, I’d rather hand them a finished copy and say, “Here, just read it.”

I think thats how most writers feel. Because we know that reading something and entering that world through your imagination is so much more powerful than hearing the edited cliff notes version.

I won’t always keep my book a secret. I know eventually I’ll have a good synopsis to share, but for right now I’m going to stick with keeping my ideas to myself. It’s just easier for me to work in my own little world right now and not share it until its completely finished.

The creative process is so fragile so why mess with it unnecessarily? Are you keeping the book you’re writing a secret too and if so, why? 

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Instagram: @sarapetersen

Twitter @saraleepetersen

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