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The Crucial First Step to Coming Out as a Writer

Everyone has a closet.

In her memoir The Family Outing, author Jessi Hempel writes: "The more I live in the world, the more I come to understand that everyone has a closet."

I agree.

Maybe your closet is:

  • Your faith—or lack thereof.
  • An eating disorder or a drinking problem.
  • The desire to leave your "good enough" marriage.
  • Your grief over a loss the world doesn't acknowledge.
  • An estrangement with a family member.

Memoir writers bravely open the door to their closets—for their own sake and for the sake of their readers.

Claiming your identity as a writer—someone who has something to say to the world—is brave and it's scary.

I know what that feels like.

When I first came out in 2016, I couldn't say I was gay or lesbian or queer—let alone that I was a queer writer. I didn't really know what label to attach to the life-changing awakening I'd experienced at midlife.

Shortly after my husband and I decided to divorce, I...

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It's Time to Call Yourself a Writer

Writers, have you ever had an identity crisis?

I had a long professional identity crisis in my thirties and forties. After practicing law for a brief period, then caring for young children, the wandering and searching for the "thing I was meant to do" ensued.

For years, I felt frozen—and shame—every time someone asked me "What do you do?"

You know that question everyone inevitably asks when they first meet you.

I stammered and made apologies when I didn't have a simple—or satisfactory-to-me—answer, and pretty much wanted to dig a hole and bury myself in it in those moments.

During those years of wandering, I often forgot my gifts and what I loved to do.

I forgot that I had been a teenager who published my first article when I was a high school senior, a personal essay in my local newspaper about a study abroad experience in England. 

My father, back in New York with the rest of my family, had mailed me a copy of the newspaper clipping with this note:

...

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