Should You Come Out (as a writer) at Work?
It's happened again. This morning, my Google Alert told me that my name had been mentioned somewhere out there in the cyber galaxy.
Was it a glowing online review? Some writer blogger mentioning or (or damning--who knows?) my book for writers? Some agent who had come upon my last novel and now, she or he had a question or a quibble or a hot writers' advance for the next book?
It was none of these.
Instead, it was a press release that I posted at work as part of my job as a communications director for a non-profit here in Massachusetts.
Dang. It's not that I'm disappointed that the search engines are picking up my work-generated press releases, but I don't like this public link between my paid work (aka, the day job) and my life as a creative writer.
I hate when that happens. In fact, I do everything I can to not have that happen, to keep my day job and my writing life separate. So I never stand in the lunch room blathering about last night's rough draft. Or I never announce a new publication.
I don't invite my colleagues to any of my public readings or panel discussions.
I never bring one of my books to work, and I never, ever mention my workplace on Twitter or on my author's Facebook page. Sometimes, when and if a colleague reads a piece of mine or sees my name in the local newspaper (the arts, not the business section), I grow suddenly bashful and embarrassed, as if I've been caught out in a secret.
Mostly, I like to honor the requirements and ethics of my professional life and workplace. I feel grateful to have a job I like with colleagues I respect. But then, I don't write anything salacious or pornographic or outrageous. I don't write on the job. So what's the harm in sharing my life with those people with whom I wait in line for the coffee machine? Just as they tell me about their kids and their kids' birthday parties, why can't I share my extra-curricular life?
Mostly, I want my colleagues to see me as fitting and fulfilling the role I'm paid for. So I hesitate to introduce another variable of myself, to charge them with seeing me in another and separate light.
And make no mistake: They are separate. The worker me and the writer me are very different. Especially on those self-effacing and writer-blocked days, I like the worker me better. It's a far more confident and competent version. It's a version that gets things done.
But mostly, I think I keep things separate because, even when I'm writing fiction, some part of that manuscript will reveal my past and my innermost thoughts and sensibilities.
Do I really want my colleagues to know that much about me?
How do you manage it? Really, I'd love to know. Do you allow colleagues or business associates to share in the joys and challenges of your writing?
Do you share rough drafts with your family or life partner or best friend?