process thought fodder writing

Working in Secret

In case you haven’t heard, Sony Picture’s computer system has been hacked due to the imminent no longer imminent release of the new movie “The Interview,” which features a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

With the hack attack, Snapchat’s emails were leaked, revealing strategic business maneuvers the company was making. Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel was upset about the release of this sensitive information and he released a letter regarding how he felt.

What’s great about the letter, other than giving the public a peek into how a company responds internally to events of significant impact, is what Spiegel says about keeping secrets, specifically, the benefits of a company keeping secrets regarding its work.

“We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgment – until we’re ready to share it. We keep secrets because keeping secrets gives you space to change your mind until you’re really sure that you’re right.

“We care about taking the time to get things right. Secrets help us do that.

“Secrets keep the space between our community and the public – space that we need to feel safe in our expression and creativity.” (Evan Spiegel’s letter on Twitter.)

Yes! Exactly! As a writer, I keep quiet about what I’m working on for a couple of reasons. One, until I get to a point where a piece feels finished, it’s still nebulous to me. I don’t know where it’s going until I reach the end and I’ve done an initial polish or two. I will not share a work-in-progress because I don’t want the opinions of other people mid-way through the process. What do they know about what’s in my creative heart? As Spiegel says, I need space to change my mind, but I sure as heck don’t need outside judgment that could fog up my thoughts on a piece.

Two, I find that talking too much about my writing causes me to lose interest in the topic. I’ve read about this in books that give writing advice and it’s true. Too much blabbing makes it feel as though I’ve already written a piece and the passion heads straight out of my mouth only to be lost in the air.

The one person I implicitly trust with work-in-progress is my husband. He listens while I try to talk through the sticky parts, but he doesn’t interject his opinions about where a piece should go. He knows that I mostly need a sounding board so I can work things out myself. He’s also willing to hear me blather on about exciting stuff I find while doing research. And, my husband doesn’t tell others about what I’m working on. He, unlike the Sony hackers, knows how to keep a secret.