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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Secret Lives

You can see from my profile that I have a number of "lives", of which writer is only one! I have been pondering this strangely schizophrenic life. In my 'real' life (the one that pays the bills!), I am a senior executive with a large not-for profit organisation. For three days a week (in real time, more in emotional time!) I balance the demands of board meetings, board reports papers and ongoing requests for legal advice. For two days a week I try (not terribly successfully) to be Alison Stuart, writer...and in between I fit wife, mother etc. into the equation.

The people you meet and interact with in your day to day life form a certain image of you in their own mind. For many years, when I first started writing, I would no more have admitted to my secret life than stood up in front of a Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd and declared myself a born again Christian! It was even something a little shameful , a secret vice like eating too much chocolate ... or buying really expensive Italian shoes...

I had to really trust a person before I confessed my secret life, generally prefaced by something like: "Just for fun! Just stories, not great works of literature..." I was so afraid that if my colleagues knew I wrote historical fiction (with romance) my professional credibility would be undermined in some way. This is one of the reasons I chose to write under a pen name. It freed me up to be another person, the Jekkyl to my Hyde!

As I've gone on, I have gained a little more confidence in my work colleagues and most of them now know that beneath the senior executive in the tailored suits (that is a look I am definitely trying to shed!), there is a whole other side to my life. This has, in its turn, invited similar confidences about the secret lives of my work colleagues - martial arts champions, crime writers, poetry writers...

I would love to know how you balance your secret lives? Do you have work colleagues with secret lives? How does knowing a person's secret life affect the way you interact with them?


  1. Hi Alison,
    I have never hidden that I write romance. Although, I have had some snide remarks aimed at me. One girl in particular stated, "Oh anyone can write a novel" I turned and said to her, "Why don't you try?" There was no comment. I am not ashamed or ever have been of doing something I want to do. One day soon, I will be getting paid for it and this is called living my dream. Not too many people live their dream, this leaves them grouchy and downright rude.(also it could be jealously) Romance writers are fun people, always smiling, and easy to relate to. Oh and I mustn't forget, always helpful, supportive and there for advice or just a listening ear.
    As for knowing people's secret lives, I think it depends on the secret they are keeping. But if it is a writer and the other person is a writer, there is no need to say anymore. lol....

  2. Good on you, Suzanne! One of my favourite sayings is "Writers write...others just talk about it!"

    I think I had (have!) a massive fear of failure and somehow confessing what I did would in some way "jinx" me and I would never finish the book.

    It is lovely to now be in a position to encourage other budding writers to start to have the confidence to say "I am a writer"