The plan made me feel dishonest and creepy, so it took me a long time to send my novel out under a man’s name. But each time I read a study about unconscious bias, I got a little closer to trying it.I set up a new e-mail address under a name—let’s say it was George Leyer, though it wasn’t—and left it empty. Weeks went by without word from the agents who had my work. I read another study about how people rate job applicants they believe are female and how much better they like those they believe are male.The thing I was thinking of doing was absolutely against the rules, the opposite of all the advice writers get, but I wasn’t feeling like a writer, and I hadn’t written in weeks. Until last winter, I had never faced a serious bout of writer’s block or any meaningful unwillingness to work. A blank page had always felt to me like the moment the lights go down in a theater—until the day it didn’t. I was spending more time crying on the phone than writing and I had no idea how to get back to work. Every paragraph was a negotiation—my instinct leading one way, and then a blast against it—don’t do that, you’ll confuse people. No one wants to read that kind of thing.
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