I’ve been hiding.
The thing about being on the internet. Not even so much as a blogger or a brand or a content maker, just existing on the internet involves some level of filtering. And, no, I’m not talking Instagram. The thing about social media is that it allows us to control, to some degree, what about us is projected. It’s entirely possible to have social media profiles and not really add anything, just consume. In which case, no one would really know that much about you except what you followed. In the same way, it’s entirely possible to project a false image. Something that is called “you” but entirely fabricated.
But even if you aren’t projecting a false image or projecting nothing at all, if you are being yourself, you are only being a certain amount of yourself. Social media is a window. Through it we let people see parts of our lives but only parts. Highlights, lowlights, the everyday, and the once-in-a-lifetime. Still, there is always something not seen. The moments between posts, what didn’t feel post-worthy, what we didn’t feel like sharing, or, just as likely, what we neglected to share at all.
Hannah Brencher posted something on Facebook this week that reminded me about the nature of our relationship with social media. We’re always asking the question: What is too much? The articles about the dangers of social media are a dime a dozen. And while there’s something to be said about finding validation in this, very rarely do we ask the more important question: How do we do it right? Which is to say: What are coming here for anyway?
Social media, and by extension the Internet, is a vessel. From it we can draw all sorts of things to feed us, and we can contribute all sorts of things, as well. But, ultimately, it’s just a vessel. We cannot draw anything out of it that we didn’t put in. So what we consume is directly tied to what we contribute, which means if we want it to be a positive influence instead of a negative one, then we need to start putting positive things into it.
Which brings me to the hiding.
Boundaries are good. Let me just put that out there. There’s always going to be a healthy limit, on how much we consume and how much we contribute. And there are so many moments in life that don’t need to be shared, they just need to be enjoyed. Conversations, food, people. There are times when you will, hopefully, completely forget about capturing the moment in favor of living it.
At the same time, if we are going to be out here, we should be ourselves. There is value in vulnerability, in showing people who we are so that they can know they are not alone and so we can know that we are worth sharing. And, if we’re not careful, we’ll let ourselves hide behind our boundaries out of fear instead of responsibility.
And I’ve been hiding. I’ve been hiding a big part of myself, and it’s so weird to say because it’s a part people know about. I talk about it constantly. It’s a major aspect of who I am as a creative, as a person. And yet very few people have actually seen it.
I write fiction. A lot. One of my claims to fame, if I even have some, is #NaNoWriMo, how I’ve completed it five years in a row, which means I’ve written five different novels. Last year, I wrote a whole novel in a week; fan fiction even, and started a second some months ago. Fiction is my life. If I could describe myself as any kind of writer, it would be a fiction writer.
And yet I realized this week that I could probably count on two hands the number of people who have actually read any of my fiction. All the stories I’ve written, all the novels, (and those above are just the ones I’ve shared on social media), none of them have really seen the light of day. Of course, I’m not published, so it’s not too surprising.
Except here I am every week posting on my website.
Except last year I published a book, a very personal project.
Except I’m posting on Instagram every day.
Somehow, I’ve turned into a non-fiction writer. And that’s not really a bad thing. All of this stretches me as a writer. In some ways, it’s easier to make up a story than to talk about your own. This is part of me, as a writer and a person. But there’s another part of me that I haven’t really shared. Possibly the greater part. I’ve been hiding half of me, maybe more.
I’ve talked about it. I’m not ashamed of it. But I haven’t put it out there.
And there’s lots of excuses I could throw at that. I could publish. There are some projects I’m really considering for that, but they aren’t there yet. And I don’t really have a platform for it, otherwise. Except I do. This is a blog. It’s always been more non-fiction, but it’s also been about sharing who I am. And this is who I am.
The last excuse, of course, is the one that keeps me silent far too often: Who would actually want it? Well, I won’t know until I put it out there, will I?
So, long story short, I’m not going to hide anymore. If I’m going to talk about it, I better start showing it to you. Who knows? It might actually give me the push to really publish. But, if nothing else, it means someone will get to read my fiction. Maybe a lot of people, or maybe just the right people.
So, stay tuned, as next week, I hope to show a bit of the novel I’m currently working on. I hope you like it.