I've read a lot in the last few years about people coming out of the closet. Usually these people were gay and most of the time the experience of coming out is one of two big emotions: total fear and exquisite freedom. It's scary to come out of the closet, for understandable reasons: People are mean and judgmental, and often they just don't get it. Sometimes I think being misunderstood feels worse than being judged. But being seen for you are and knowing that what you are presenting to the world is not skewed or blurred or contorted at all from the real you brings freedom.
The other message I've heard over and over is that the misery of being misunderstood and judged and all sorts of other bad things that can come with coming out of the closet is better, barring physical and psycological violence, than the misery of being locked in. Of feeling unsure of what people's reactions will be and terrified that they might find you out.
I care a lot more about the experience of people in the closet and out than I ever thought I would. I'm not gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, queer, or + (that's short-hand for all the other gender and sexuality experiences I honestly don't know much about). I do know a lot of people who are, though, and for reasons I can't quite articulate, I feel drawn in my heart to their experience.
I've been a closet writer. In NO WAY am I comparing the challenges of being a closet writer to hiding one's sexuality, BUT I do feel like I need to come out. I love to write. I love words and stories and I love putting them together in my head and on paper (of both the physical and digital varieties). Over the last few years, as stay-at-home motherhood has cleared away professional distractions and thrown sideways both my heartstrings and my schedule in new ways, I've written more. Specifically, I wrote a book!
I didn't intend to at first. At first it was a story that occupied my mind as I transitioned from a fast-paced office job to a topsy-turvy life at home with kids. Late at night I typed way on my smartphone as my first baby nursed. I edited as he slept. Pregnant with my second, I finished my draft and now, as both whirlwind around me, I am working on bringing that book into the world.
I knew I would write a book one day (well, hoped, in a bucket-list sort of way), it's not the story I thought would take hold first. It's not my story, but it's one that, however fictional I wrote it, is real and experienced by SO MANY PEOPLE I can't not care about it as if it was my story.
I felt compelled- prompted- to write Romy and Julia. It's the story of two young women who were in the closet and when they met each other, they had to come out.
So now, I'm out as a writer. And I am excited, in a nervous, timid kind of way, to bring out my book.