I’ve always wanted a secret identity. There’s no escaping the grind of responsible adulthood, but I used to imagine that I’d feel better about the whole thing if I were secretly up to something on the sly. Fighting crime, casting spells, spying for Japan—anything that doesn’t involve scrolling through spreadsheets and composing perky e-mails to ornery coworkers.
Now that I’m launching a side hustle under a pseudonym, I finally have one: a genuine double life. And it is stressful as fuck.
I have nightmares that everyone finds out, now in regular rotation along with the usual torments (I never finished high school and bugs are on me). I’m constantly paranoid at work:
Boss: “Quinn, I’d like you to draft the report because you’re a good writer.”
Quinn: “What? No I’m not. Who told you that?”
Innocuous questions like “what did you do this weekend?” are suddenly a minefield. I’ll start with a simple lie. “I cooked some food… with ingredients…” But then I’m stuck fielding follow-up questions, blurting nonsense until I’m strangled in my own deception and flailing for the fire alarm.
Home is no better. My parents visit frequently, and they have a habit of rifling through our things, so I had to purge all evidence of the book from the apartment. I signed my publishing contract, then threw it away. When I write by hand, I rip up the pages. I keep my one reference book in a drawer, under a slew of panties and a prominent vibrator.
Lord knows where I’m going to hide the boxes of promotional swag that will be arriving circa spring 2020. I have considered purchasing a combination safe, one large enough to hold ten copies of the book plus the scrunchies—but I worry its presence will invite uncomfortable questions like “Why is there a safe the size of a furnace in your living room?”
Fortunately, I have a few months to think of something better.
So it’s hard to have a secret. Harder than it looks on television, where some undercover heroine huffs that life is stressful despite apparently having time for cool friends, love interests, and a daily blowout. I’m always busy and exhausted yet so freaking happy and excited—and I can’t explain why.
Still, it’s well worth the trouble. A year ago, when I was trapped in some bleak, interminable meeting, I would stare despondently out the window and think, “This is my only life on earth and I’m spending it here.. in this room… doing this.”
Now, I get to remind myself that I’m more than an overeducated analyst with an anxiety disorder. I’m Quinn but I’m also Quinn, a romance writer with a book under contract and another in progress. This is just my day job.