Ten years ago I won a writing competition.
Now, where I come from, this competition was a really big deal: there was a big launch, a television interview, several radio talks, and full-page reviews in all the right papers and magazines. It was the kind of thing aspiring writers dream of, the one big thing that could make a young writer’s career.
But for me it did the opposite.
See, until that moment I had no idea that my social anxiety (the same anxiety I took so many years to hide and master – and without the help of a therapy dog, that’s for sure) could be triggered in a professional environment. But the attention my novel received made me feel judged and scrutinized and horribly exposed – and not in a professional way but as if I was naked on a stage, with everyone calmly scrutinizing my too soft, too fat, too ugly naked body.
I just couldn’t stand it.
Which is ridiculous, I know. I should’ve grown a thicker skin and stopped being so damn over-sensitive, I know.
And I tried; I really did. But in the end, I guess, it was easier to stop writing than to change my entire personality.
It’s ironic really, in a world where everyone was trying so desperately to draw attention to themselves through YouTube or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, all I wanted to do was to hide. I simply couldn’t bear to be seen by all those strangers. Screw the world, I told myself. I am a socially awkward, intensely private and an anxious introvert – and I’m proud of it!
The only problem was that, no matter what I kept telling myself, I missed telling my stories. I love telling stories, you see, and the thing about stories is that the listener is just as important as the storyteller. And so, after years spent in denial, I’m finally back doing what I love most – only this time under a pen name.
A pen name! What a brilliant idea! Why the hell didn’t I think of it sooner?
Hmm. Well, maybe because in the decade since my first book was published, the publishing world has changed beyond all recognition, and for the first time, I think, it is possible to stay truly anonymous and still interact with your readers. Sure, there might be some difficulties (my Facebook and Instagram pages have zero followers, for example, something I find HILARIOUS), but I believe that in the long run, this may just work out. Still, I hate lying and I’m not out to trick or mislead anyone – hence this blog, in which I’m trying to share a bit of truth about myself for those who are interested enough to come this far.
So. To conclude. My name is not Ripley Harper and I do not look like a sexy Viking shieldmaiden. In real life I am a plain, boring, intensely shy introvert who spends my life hiding behind a keyboard, and my dearest hope is that once you enjoy my stories, this won’t matter.
I really do hope to hear from you soon.