I have a mixed selection of biscuits, some plain, most with chocolate and one or two custard creams, so please help yourself. I've given up biscuits for Lent - as well as chocolate, cake and crisps - in an attempt to loose one or two (thousand) pounds, so I'll only join you for a cup of strong tea this morning.
A couple of years ago at an RNA conference, I think it was my first, I was eating lunch with a small group of women and probably was listening more than taking part in the conversation. They were asking each other the usual questions: what is your book about; how many have you written; have you had anything published, etc.
One of them started asking my about my writing, courses I'd attended, what I had planned to do next, and so on. At the end of the lunch she told me that I was living so far in my comfort zone that if I wanted to build my confidence as a writer I had to push myself and 'get out there'.
People who know me generally find it amusing to think that I could ever consider myself to be remotely shy in any way, but back then the thought of self-promotion was worrying, to say the least. That's when I decided to be brave and start a blog. I attended more conferences, the excellent London Bookfair Masterclass, a week at Caerleon and thought of myself more of a writer, rather than someone pretending to be one.
However, it was only when I had a piece in My Weekly about writing in my shed that anyone other than my family realized my secret. One of the PA's emailed literally everyone in the company - 180 or so people - showing them. So now they all know that I'm the barmy one who spends hours each week writing books in a shed. Even when attending a course about Trust & Company Law - oh, the excitement that is my life - the organizer told the lawyer who was tutoring us, as well as the rest of the class that I write 'books about passion and romance'. You can imagine how colourful my face was at that point.
So, my question to you this morning is: how much of a secret is your writing? Is it common knowledge to those around you that you write? Or is it only close family members who notice you disappearing for hours at a time and who understand why you've suddenly tuned out of what they were saying whilst out to dinner, so that you can listen to the fascinating conversation on the next table?