Ever since my corner of the world shut down in March, 2020, I’ve taken to writing fiction on Zoom in thirty-minute sessions with a bunch of other authors. I knew almost none of them when I began. Today, I am thrilled to call them my friends. I met a bunch of these good folks (you know who you are!) in person for the first time last weekend. It all happened over the course of three days at Multiverse Convention on the outskirts of Atlanta. I had great fun being on panels about writing.
Better yet, my writer friends were every bit as kind and smart and clever as I had suspected. Just look at the little wooden dinosaur one of them gave me! Now I simply must write a story featuring this plucky little horn-headed raptor. It will be my second story based on one of the gang.
A writer should have a secret. This advice was given to me years ago when I was first learning to craft fiction. Readers love surprises, the theory goes, with an important caveat. The writer must lay the groundwork so that the reveal comes as a surprise, but then the reader thinks, ‘yes of course, even though I didn’t I see that coming.’
Real life, being messier than fiction, also requires writers to keep secrets from their readers and even other writers. There can be exciting news but it’s not yet time to announce it. Frequently, it’s not the writer’s place to disclose the news. Maybe the author sold a new story or book, learned their work will be republished, or accepted a business opportunity, was asked to appear at an event, got nominated for or won an award, received a favorable review, or racked up impressive sales figures. You get the idea.
The writer may be sworn to secrecy until the project or event is announced and everyone sends their congratulations. If the writer seems pleased but not giddy with excitement, this may be because they’ve had weeks or even months to absorb the happy news.
Keep in mind, those of us with intense imaginations (we are writers, after all) have already envisioned the exciting event in considerable detail. By this, I mean not only what we’ve achieved but sometimes the possibility of the project crashing and burning. Thus, simply finding out how things turn out can spark relief as much as anything else.
Might these musings be a long-winded way of hinting that you may want to watch this space? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.