During my public relations career, I worked on my novel evenings and mornings. Often I wrote on the weekends. When I traveled, I wrote on my down time.
I had a wonderful boss. He was visionary, funny, strategic, and an all-around charmer. When we traveled together, his agenda was an early happy hour and some exploration time. We once hiked through a state park before an important meeting. If I told him my dream about becoming anovelist, I think he would have wished me well. Still, I kept the secret. You just never know.
As it turned out, he took a promotion and moved. What if he had shared my dream with his replacement?
I told a few trusted co-workers about novel. I was touched by their enthusiasm and questions. How’s it going? When do we get to read it? Did you hear from any of those agents? The place, however, was a gossip factory. I should know – I worked the gossip factory lines as much as the others.
I don’t think my co-worker friends abused my trust or laughed secretly about my dream. But I worried. I worried it would slip out and people would accuse of stealing work time for personal projects. I worried they’d use the network to read my files, playing detective. I did occasionally edit at work, but it was during lunch. But how would I explain that in a non-defensive way?
I wished I had kept my project to myself. Writers have enough paranoia without adding another layer.
Then I left for a new PR job. My co-workers were amazing people. Talented and funny with a teamwork attitude. They welcomed me and told me the office’s ups, downs, horror stories and successes.
But I worked for a bosshole. That guy was creepy, manipulative, arrogant, and cold enough to inflict frostbite with a simple handshake. He treated women like extras in his bosshole grand plan. That guy was stupid, too. My co-worker put it bluntly: his arrogance far exceeded his capacity.
The internal politics were strange: an employee hired a private detective for proof that the bosshole really was a bosshole. Alliances formed and then crumbled. There was a dividing line in the office. Nobody was allowed to straddle it. Pick a side. Pick a side NOW.
Nobody shared their personal lives. Sure, my female teammates and I swapped cute kids stories and, since they’d been reporters, we shared commentaries on the state of journalism.
But I kept my mouth shut. We all had a three-year probation before becoming permanent staff, and there was the bosshole factor. Why take chances?
Bottom line: keep job work at the job; keep dream work in your home.