When I begin posting stories to Medium this past May, I decided immediately I wanted to stay in the writing closet.
I decided that apart from my husband, I wasn’t going to share my work with my family, friends or anyone else in my immediate circle.
I’ve always found comfort in writing and for many years was a dedicated blogger. In putting myself out there, I hoped to share my passions and interests with the world at large (which I did, although the “at large” part is negligible), connect with other like-minded beings (which I did, a handful of whom I remain in contact with) and, I confess, gain some type of writing notoriety (which I definitively did not).
My writing, which centred almost exclusively on my physical, mental and spiritual growth and well-being, came from the heart and was, for the most part, pretty good. It gave me the chance to process and reflect, helping me through some extremely challenging and uncertain times.
Eventually, though, I began sharing less frequently. Much of my journey of growth had been lived out loud, and I found it was time for me to retreat more inward. About a year and a half ago I deleted my website and stopped writing outwardly altogether.
When I began writing again last May, it was because of a revelation that arose in reading Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire May. I realized that apart from my erratic journalling practice and the requirements of my 9–5 job, I was doing very little writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but there was one key element missing from the equation: writing.
So I turned to Medium because I knew I didn’t want to create another blog and replicate what I’d already done, and because I was vaguely familiar with the site, having written a few tentative articles many moons ago (which I’ve since deleted, in my endeavour to start afresh).
What drew me to Medium in particular was the fact that I didn’t need to have a niche to begin flexing my creative muscles. The ability to write about whatever sparks my fancy has been exciting and refreshing, and likewise part of the reason I plan to continue to keep my work a secret, at least for now.
There’s a sense of liberation knowing that, quite likely, no one I know in real life has any idea of what’s going on here. My pen name — a play on my real name — was deliberately chosen not as an act of haughty pretentiousness, but to keep my identity a secret.
It’s not that I’d be embarrassed or ashamed were someone I know to discover my writings — the subjects of my stories would certainly recognize their involvement were they to randomly happen upon them — but I will admit there’s a kind of freedom in keeping closeted.
As ridiculous as this sounds, it’s not so much the fear of people I know reading what I write as the fear that they won’t.
I mentioned once before how it used to secretly hurt my feelings, back when I was blogging regularly, that none of my friends were terribly interested in what I’d written.
I understand logically that people spend the vast majority of their days obligatorily chained to their screens and thereby make a conscious effort to minimize any extra exposure. I understand that not everyone’s job requires them to sit in front of a screen, and so their online engagement is haphazard at best. I understand that people are bombarded daily with an endless flood of content competing for their attention, and that it’s easy to get lost amid the noise.
I get it, I get it, I get it.
But, when it comes to being a writer, our art is like any other: heartfelt and vulnerable.
Blame it on me for never advocating for my work. I always felt people should want to read what I’d been working on, not be expected to.
And yet, the fact they weren’t reading helped shape the belief that what I’d created didn’t have value.
I mean, obviously it did. As I already said, my experience blogging played a pivotal part in helping me work through many difficult situations, on top of allowing me to honour and celebrate the profoundly beautiful ones.
Which is why, as I continue this journey writing for Medium, I try and remember that it’s not all about traction and stats, notoriety and success.
My main purpose for coming here was to challenge myself to begin writing again — and challenging it’s been! Two months in, and I’ve already faced countless writing slumps and streams of self-doubt.
But fuck it! Who cares!
Because I’m here, showing up.
And that’s what really counts.