Writing can be intensely personal
I was doing a little digging around to find out more about Amy Zhang, whose recently released debut novel, Falling into Place, is creating a bit of buzz, partly because it was written and published all by the time she was just 18 years old. Everything about this girl is knocking stereotypes right out of the park: She’s young; she’s female; she’s of Asian ancestry, and yet she’s already chasing and achieving her dreams. I can’t speak for the quality of the book, having not read it yet myself, but can say that regardless; Amy Zhang is pretty darn impressive.
More to the point, I was reading an interview with the author when I stumbled upon this quote:
“I try very, very hard to keep my writing life and […] the rest of my life separate. I can honestly count the number of people who know me personally and are also aware that I write on my fingers. Writing is something I love so much that I’m honestly terrified to talk about it with people I know.”
This hit me like a ton of bricks because I relate to it so much. Obviously by this point, having released two books of my own, people who know me generally know that I write, but I can honestly say that – like Amy – I can count the number of serious, in-depth conversations I’ve had about my work with loved ones on just one hand. Sure, they get excited for me when I release something. I post about it on my Facebook to let everyone know at once; some of them like the post; some of them share it; heck, a few of them even buy and read it, but very few of them truly understand the extent of what I do.
This is, ironically, largely down to my own doing. Whenever a friend or family member has attempted to show an interest in my writing, be it asking of the ins and outs of publishing or the details of my current projects, I clam up and mumble a half-hearted, awkward response that tells them next to nothing of any significance. This isn’t because I don’t care. On the contrary, it’s because I care so much that I find it difficult to let them into that part of my life. I can’t explain it; it just feels wrong somehow to talk about my imaginary worlds, fictional characters and royalty payments with the people I’ve known since our schooldays… They know what I love to do and are happy to let me get on with it.
That’s why I love this platform so much, as – whether it’s odd or not – I can happily chat away endlessly about all things literature with fellow readers and writers around the world, many of whom I consider dear friends but who are, I suppose, technically strangers.
I like to hope this is something that is universal. ‘Real life’ friends are, for many of us, all about escaping the stresses of our day to day routines. They’re the people we go to at the end of a long week to unwind, take our mind off things and recharge, so we can start all over again. The last thing most people want to do after work is talk about their day at the office; maybe this is just my equivalent of that same feeling.
I’d love to know if this is something you also experience or if it is yet another quirk to add to my list?