I am an INFP. One of the truest aspects of my personality type is that I hate conflict. I would rather run and hide than ever meet a tough situation head on. My INFP tendencies have followed me right in to my writing career.
Ghosts have been a fascination for me since I first saw one as a young child. As a teenager and a young adult, I read a lot of novels which centered on a ghost or haunted house. So naturally, when I began writing in earnest, my genre of choice was paranormal mystery. I’ve always loved stories in which a ghost is present because there is a mystery to be solved.
So where’s the conflict?
Well, to make a long story short, my belief and interest in ghosts has gotten me into trouble with some of my church-affiliated friends and acquaintances. (If you want the long story, you can read it here.) So how was I going to deal with being published and having my name out there, attached to novels that deal with the very topic that caused such a stir in my religious life?
I took a pen name. Granted, that was not the only reason I decided to use Leta Hawk instead of Deb/Debra/D.S. Lerew, but in all honesty, it was a big one. It was always in the back of my head that eventually folks would put two and two together, and the cat would be out of the bag, but I would cross that bridge ( or run away from it) when I came to it.
Fast forward about a year, after I’d released two paranormal mysteries under my pen name. I’ve been promoting on my Facebook author page, on Twitter, and here on my blog, but I never shared things from my author page onto my personal Facebook page, hoping to keep the mask on and avoid the inevitable conflict. It honestly killed me inside that I couldn’t share my events or my successes with my friends at church, because I was afraid of the disapproval I knew would come.
Until something happened about a month ago. Another author friend and I had book tables at a local book sale in a church setting. The pastor of that church is also a writer, and he writes what he calls “dark parables,” so he understands my predicament. Since this was a bit out of the way, I was sure that no one I knew would actually show up, so I had no worries for the day.
Well, towards the end of the day, I looked up and saw someone I recognized from one of my church-related activities. My heart stopped. What if she saw me? What if she came over to talk to me? What if she picked up my book and realized that I write about…ghosts? I was on the verge of diving under the table and hiding until she left, when something rose up in me.
“I’m done,” I declared to my friend. “I’m taking control of this right now.” I stood up and walked over to my friend, intending to “bust myself out,” and let the chips fall where they may.
I greeted my friend warmly, and she did the same. Then she asked if I was working the book sale. I took a deep breath and replied, “No, I’m actually one of the visiting authors.”
Her eyes lit up, and she said, “Why, that’s wonderful! What do you write?”
Another deep breath, and I answered almost apologetically, “I write ghost stories.”
Expecting condemnation, I held my breath and waited. Her smile broadened, and she said, “Well, good for you! I’m so happy for you! I’ll come over and check out your books in a bit.”
Shell-shocked, I returned to my table, looking, I suppose, as though I’d seen a ghost. I told my friend what had happened, and something inside me shifted. I felt as though chains had fallen from me. I had done the unthinkable and shared the heart and soul of my writing to someone I was certain would disapprove, and the world hadn’t ended.
I wish I could say I have completely abandoned my flight-over-fight worldview, even if only in my writing life, but I have not. I have begun to speak a bit more freely of my chosen genre and to share, even with people at my church, that I am indeed a writer or **shudder** ghost stories, but I still have a ways to go.
But I can finally say that there is hope for this avoider of conflict.