Monday, March 15, 2010

Brian Y: Secret Agent

I am a writer. You are a writer. I am a secret agent. You are a secret agent.

So when friends come over for dinner or we go out to dinner or we go out for some other reason, out where there are other live bipeds doing live biped things, we are carrying with us a world of secrets. Whether you drink your martinis stirred or shaken or whether you just drink beer from a tap, 007 has nothing on you.

I mean today, today my character discovered something essential about the world and tried to communicate it. This made some people really angry because that something involved exposing something they’d done they didn’t want exposed. What would the consequences be? How would it all turn out? All day long I struggled with the subtleties of the situation and what would happen because of them.

Some friends who came over for dinner asked what I’d been up to. I could have said discovering unbelievable essential secrets in the world and emotional violence and struggling with the future, but I thought this might make them uncomfortable.

“Just writing,” I said.

They asked the obligatory question. “What are you working on?”

But I can’t tell. I’m a secret agent. You can’t tell your secrets in casual conversation. They sound dumb. Also talking about secrets, such as what you’re writing before you’ve finished, sometimes makes them disappear. The Writing Gods are always listening. So I either have to remain silent or make something up. “A Podiatrists’ convention,” I might say.

Naturally, (unless they're really into feet, but we won't go there) they begin to talk of other things. Real jobs with real people. Selling, buying, doing. I nod and smile and pretend that their working lives are more interesting than mine. I have to pretend that all I did all day was sit on my butt and stare out my window and type a word here and there between weighty sighs. It’s part of being a secret agent.

But the truth? The truth is a secret.


  1. How true. I never go anywhere without my writer's decoder ring.

  2. hahaha - I'm so using that next time - "A podiatrists' convention."

    I used to feel bad when I wouldn't answer that question, "What are you working on?" But the one time I slipped and told, I learned my lesson! Because you are correct - the Writing Gods are ALWAYS listening, and their punishment is severe. I don't feel bad anymore.

  3. With non-writer acquaintances, I can use agent code words like dystopian YA or steampunk MG. They look baffled, but won't admit they don't know what I'm talking about. So we go on to talk of other things.

  4. Troy--where can I get one of those?
    Lisa--it is weird how talking about a manuscript too soon can somehow cause it to disappear. I had to learn that one the hard way.
    Vonna--Right. I guess other occupations and passions have their own code words, too, but, yeah, just YA will lose most people.

  5. Sorry to comment a month 1/2 later but i love this. That is totally how I feel. It's just easier keep it secret. YOU ARE RIGHT "The Writing Gods are always listening." I get chills thinking of it.

    I too nod and pretend their jobs are more important than mine. Very cute. Thanks for posting.