I was ten when Dances with Wolves came out. Such a beautiful film, yet all my family took from it was nicknaming someone after their traits. Mine stuck; my father called me Talks-a-lot until I asked him to stop as a twelfth birthday present.
The words spoke to me. I, too, couldn’t help but share my latest journal entry if I thought it well written, even when I’d prefer its content remain private. And I never lied, not because I’m virtuous but because I break out in hives. I so related to Plath’s thought that I ran down to my dad’s desktop to look up this Sylvia woman—clearly a soul sister—only to discover she took her own life. It left me thinking I’d be smart to learn how to shut the hell up.
A natural propensity to share is great until it’s not. In my old life, as a high tech exec, information was gold and I learned to hand it out sparingly. It’s a good skill to have. In my new life, as a writer, I push myself to bring Talks-a-lot back; to not censor myself. What I work towards—the mecca—is the ability to turn the two faucets on and off given the situation.
As it relates to my road to publication, I put it all out there for friends and family (with the exception of financial details). When my first novel got an agent but never sold I regretted it, the way I regretted telling people my husband and I were trying to conceive. It’s stressful to have an audience on a journey with no end in sight, or even no end guaranteed. There are people who wait for you to share an update (love) and people who demand a status update every time you see them (love less). But having an audience gave me a level of accountability I sorely needed. I told people I was writing a book, and so every day I went up to my office to work on it. And in the end, when I did get that book deal, my people knew it was hard won which made the celebration all the sweeter.
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