‘Coming Out of the Closet’ as a Writer

‘Coming Out of the Closet’ as a Writer

Have you ever been daunted by your dreams, or worse…ashamed?

I’ve been there and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned since coming out of the closet. No, I don’t mean the conventional gay closet. I’m talking about the dream closet.

The dream closet is where all your ‘somedays,’ ‘maybes,’ and ‘if onlys’ are locked away never to become ‘todays,’ ‘will dos.’ and ‘absolutelys’. It’s where your hopes are held ransom by fear, and it’s where the greatest and most beautiful of dreams go to suffocate and die.

In the TEDxBoulder Talk We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up,” Ash Beckaham defines the proverbial ‘closet’ as a universal experience and offers inspiration for getting out. But why? Why does every human being have a closet? Why would anyone force their dreams – the most precious, magical parts of their  soul – to live in a closet; in a place with no air, no light, no space, and no friends?

Everyone has a different excuse, but all of them boil down to one thing: Fear. We stay in the closet because we’re afraid.

Writer’s know this fear all too well. It’s the fear of the blank page. It’s the fear of perfection, of disappointment, of failure. And perhaps the worst fear of all: What will my parent/significant other/third grade teacher/complete stranger think if I come out of the closet and announce that I want to (gulp) write stories?!?

Such fears, however ridiculous, might as well be unbreakable chains of Gleipnir when you’re in the closet. I know, because not too long ago I was in the closet.

Like many of you, I wanted to be a novelist. But my dreams were in the closet and I was ashamed. Who was I to dream something so grand, so arrogant, so frivolous?

I wish I could tell you that I found the strength to face my closet door with bravery, but that’s not my story. I was like an out of control hoarder and I would have kept stuffing indefinitely, but only so much can fit into a closet.

As Freud will tell you, what is repressed eventually explodes. And that’s exactly what happened to me. My closet door buckled under the excessive internal pressure and I had two choices. One, cling to the door and die in the imminent explosion. Or two, open the door, woman up, and deal with the mess. It was tough but I choose option two, and this is what I discovered:

  1. Opening the door is hard. If it were easy everyone would do it. If your dreams never get out of the closet than you never have to try. You never have to risk failing. You never have to do anything.
  2. Ditching the haters is harder. Those who judge your dreams are doing so as a defense mechanism. They don’t want to confront their own closets and their own fears. Don’t let them get to you. Haters are gonna hate. Find fellow dreamers who and Mark Twain sums it up best: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small People always do that, but the truly great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
  3. It’s worth it. The most powerful thing you will ever do is dare to pursue your dreams. It’s hard, but so what? Life is hard inside or outside the closet, so why not live the life of your dreams?

I’ve been out of the closet for a while now. Everyone who knows me knows about my literary ambitions, and I mean everyone – my parents, my boss, my friends, random people I meet in cafes…

I haven’t achieved literary greatness but the simple freedom of admitting to the world that I wish to write, that in fact I am in the process of crafting a novel of my very own, has transformed my life, and I wouldn’t give up that freedom for anything. When you let your dreams out of the closet you are choosing a hard road but one that makes life worth living. I hope all of you get out of the closet, keep writing or start writing, and never ever let your fears decide your fate.