Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm a Writer (but don't tell anyone)

A week or so ago, I realized it was probably time to get a more professional email address. It's not like my old email address was embarrassing--it just wasn't my name. And it included my birthyear. And made reference to my day-job. None of which seemed to scream "serious writer here."

So, I decided to get a new gmail account. But robinweeks was taken. As was rweeks, weeks.robin, and a host of others. I didn't want a numbered email account, like robinweeks8757: I'm an original, dangit! I also didn’t want to include my middle initials (Weeks is my married name—I kept my middle name and my maiden name, but I don’t hyphenate), because I’m not including them in my pen name, and figured it would be confusing.

Fortunately, robinweekswriter was available! Yay! Perfect! Professional, screams "serious writer here," includes my name, and has no numbers. I'm set. I snapped it up, retrieved all the email from my old account, and started loving the tags and filters of gmail (seriously--so cool!). I changed my email address on Twitter and Facebook and all the other various organizations that email me. I considered keeping my old email address for non-writerly friends and family... but my old email won't forward mail unless I pay them money. Snag.

I considered just maintaining and checking two separate email accounts... but I’m really loving those tags and filters. How can I live without being able to see all the emails my mother sent me with just a click of a button?

So, with a sigh, I decided to just send everyone to the gmail address… and hit another snag. I don’t want to tell everyone to start emailing me at robinweekswriter. My high school friends? My siblings? My cousins? Extended family galore? They know I’m not a writer. Not a real, published one, anyway. To them, I’m a lawyer. And I am—and I’m not at all ashamed of that. Or of my quest to be a published novelist. But…to tell them to start calling me a writer right now seems… presumptuous.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy to call myself a writer. Plenty of actual published author-writers have proclaimed that anyone who writes is a writer, and I write, so I’m happy to own the title. Among writer friends. Who know what I’m talking about. Who understand that I’m not putting on airs or trying to predict the future (in the same way robinweekslotterywinner would do) or making a very premature announcement.

Anyway, I'm a bit ashamed to confess that I went and got another gmail account that makes no reference to any occupation and plan to start handing out that one to my friends and family. The neutral account will then obligingly forward all my mail to my secret identity account. Which I just announced to the score of people who read my blog, and to untold hundreds who may someday stumble upon it. No spam, please: I know how to filter you out!

Anyone else have this paranoia? Do you maintain separate email accounts for your non-writer friends? Feel like your writer life is your little secret? Should I find a support group somewhere?


  1. My email address makes no reference to my name or occupation, LOL. It's just the email I've had for roughly ten years, and it's simple, and would be a headache to try to change it. I do have an email address (which I never, ever check, LOL!) that I use when I need to sign up for something on the web and don't want spam sent to my regular email address. And my co-author and I have a joint email account for our book series, but that's just for the series.

    I'm sure you'll grow in your confidence in telling friends/family you're a writer whenever the right time comes along! I'm published and I'm still not always "I'm a writer!" When someone asks me what I do, I tend to tell them, "I stay at home with my kids and homeschool." Then it's, "Oh, and I write."

  2. You described my trip to changing an email address perfectly. I got lucky though and my name wasn't taken so I didn't have to tag writer on the end. I have a job of 17 years yet I am still stuck when trying to tell someone I am a writer. I agree it sounds like I am faking it whenever I say it. I hope with time it will fade and I too will be able to say it with more confidence.

  3. Laura- I didn't even mention the sheer number of email addresses I have. College alumni address, an address for the day-job, I, too, have a "spam mail" address I never check.... It's a bit insane, really.

    Doesn't it feel so prideful to up and say "I'm a writer?" Still, now that you're published, you should bite the bullet. :) Let me know how it goes for you.

    Jamie--funny how our jobs define us, isn't it? Shouldn't "lawyer" be prestigious enough for me? The people I work with know I'm writing a book, but what would they think if I started calling myself a "writer?"

  4. Hey there RobinWeeksWriter!:-) That has a seriously lovely ring to it.

    Don't feel too goofy about having two addresses. I have two seperate email accounts; one for my friends and fam, and one that links from my website for the writing side of my life. So you're not alone!

    Also, no need to seek a support group. You already have one. You have your blog readers and crit group, who ALL understand this strange neurosis they call writing. :-)

  5. Thanks, Anita--whew, what a relief! What did writers do before the internet? They must have all thought they were going mad!

  6. I made a new gmail account after I decided my teeny-bopper hotmail address wouldn't be great for job applications. Luckily I could use just my name without declaring my writing aspirations. I definitely keep writing and my small place in the online writing community seperate from relations with my family and friends. I had a recent 'discussion' about why I haven't sent my first unedited novel to a publisher yet with my mother/grandma which reaffirmed my decision!
    - Sophia.

  7. Sophia--LOL. Like an aspiring writer needs more encouragement to jump the gun on submissions! Way to go sticking to your resolve. Edit first, then edit again. THEN submit. :) (So I hear.)

  8. I've been wondering lately if changing my e-mail address would be appropriate -- mine is ashes8604. I mean, I know it's not something like sexylittlegirl8604, but it doesn't scream professionalism either. (At least I don't use my AOL one -- lilbigash! LOL) Unfortunately, all the really great ones for my name are they were for you. Congrats on snagging one that works!

    Yes, we are your support group and we totally understand the need to obsess over seemingly unimportant (but serious and majorly important to us) details!

  9. Ashes is a cool moniker--too bad so many other people thought so! :) I'll bet ashes2ashes is taken too, huh? GrayAshes? AuthorAshes? (Or is that too pessimistic?) I don't think numbers are a bad thing, I just didn't prefer them for myself. I like everything to have a clear meaning. :)

    I love my support group! :-D

  10. Interesting! Yeah, I used to have this problem, and sometimes I still do struggle telling people that I write. It has gotten to the point that writing is so much a part of me I just can't be embarrassed by it anymore. Also, I now consider writing as my job at home in addition to my family, and when people as if I work, I have to tell them I do because I treat as a real job.

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to be proud of my career choice and treat it as the professional choice it is. That has made a big difference in how I deal with it in my non-writing circles.

    Good luck finding your balance! (I hate numbers in emails, too). :)

  11. I actually have this problem as well.:) I have an e-mail address for just family and friends. Then I have an e-mail address for just my agent/hopefully editors someday... and finally, my address for my writerly friends. I'm thinking about changing my writing one though, since it has my old book blog name in it, and I closed it down a few months ago. It's amazing how many I have to keep track of now! LOL

  12. I do have a separate address listed on my website, so if it ends up getting spammed to death, I can change it without having to change my "real" address (but I haven't had trouble with that--Gmail seems really good about keeping the spam away). I can totally relate to feeling shy about announcing you're a writer--I felt that way pre-pub and STILL feel that way in non-LDS circles, since I write for the LDS market. Sigh . . . we writers always find something to worry about, eh?

  13. Michelle--It might not be the best-paid job ever, but writing is definitely a job that deserves the time you put into it!

    Chantele--I'm trying to consolidate into one account (one reason I'm loving the tags and filters in gmail), but I'm enjoying having a non-writer address I can give to people who have no connection with writing!

    Stephanie--writers... women... humans. There's always something to worry about. :)