Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a story published by Nerve.com, a love, sex, and relationship centered website. The story was popular and received a lot of great, kind comments.
Hooray! Yes, wonderful news. Anyway.
I published said story under a pen name that I will take with me to the grave. E.A. Ryles is a casual pen name — in other words, if someone were to connect my birth name with Ryles, I wouldn’t be too put out about it. In fact, most of my friends and family know all about it. If someone random from high school or a future boss were to google my real name, it wouldn’t be impossible for them to find me, but they would have to do more than a quick google search. Since most people are not stalkers (she said optimistically), I imagine that this is enough of a barrier to keep my pen name generally private.
I use a casual pseudonym because I wanted just a little bit of distance — just a little bit of anonymity. I write about my cat, and zombies, and mermaids. Nothing too controversial. But Nerve is all about sexy times. I am enormously awkward about sexy time. Also, I do not want friends or family to have that clear of a window into my personal thoughts about sex, love, and relationships. So, another pen name — problem solved.
But, the story was popular. It made the front splash page and everything. I told less than five people, and of that five, only one actually knew the publication date and title.
I did not predict that I’d feel so much angst over this. I’d always thought that I wrote for me — sure, I have a ego like any other writer, but not so much that I need tons of feedback to be validated. That’s an artist thing, right? Artists are sustained by something larger than audience feedback.
But not me, apparently. I feel frustrated that I can’t brag about this, that I can’t enjoy everyone I know saying the heartfelt or obligatory congratulations. I actually found myself thinking, “Does being published even matter, if I don’t get compliments?”
O.m.g. That’s ridiculous! Is that really why I write? To get attention and compliments? Am I that shallow?
More importantly, how can I sustain my writing drive with this attitude? It’s like one of those spiritual sayings, about how your motivation should come from an internal source, not an external one.
See why I’m angsting out? I love telling stories, that’s been a part of me forever. But if I never received positive comments, if no one ever told me that my writing is good, I’m not certain that I would keep writing. I’d like to say, “So what? I just have to be so great at writing that the compliments never stop flowing! EASY.”
But the writing world is brutal. People go years with nothing but rejections before they hit their break. It’s the inner flame that keeps them going. What about me? Where’s my inner flame at?Am I doomed to sputter out?
I’d like to end this post by saying, “Anyway, I meditated on that for a while and discovered that I do have an inner flame, and anticipate no issues with continuing to write and revise.”
Nope. I have no answers, no committed resolution. Maybe I am a fraud. The day may come when I realize that I haven’t written a thing for over a year, that I’ve given up.
All I can say is: not today.
I hate myself for watching this show.