Fear Of Being Exposed

I am in the final stages before releasing my memoir, and for a few weeks there, I dealt with a paralyzing fear.  All I could think about are the attacks people will make on my character (though I’ve been attacked by readers before, on numerous occasions).   Or the ways in which certain people in the book will feel misrepresented or insulted (though I did my best to tell my story as it actually happened).

I listened to my dad telling stories about my sister and I over family dinner, and realized how unique each of our stories and perceptions really are.  He had no recollection of what we were really going through at different stages of our lives.  A bitter drink turned sweet with distance.  In fact, everyone from my youth has little idea of the double life I lived, now captured in my book.

“The risk is fearsome: in making your real work you hand the audience the power to deny the understanding you seek; you hand them the power to say, “you’re not like us; you’re weird; you’re crazy (Bayles, Orland, 39).”

In all truth, I prefer people that I don’t know at all to read my work, rather than people who know me.  It’s okay for a stranger to not like it, or not get it, but when it’s your friend, it means that they don’t really get you at all.

In the midst of my publishing fear phase, a friend leant me the book “Art & Fear – Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking”.  As soon as I began reading it, my fear subsided.  I was able to fully focus again on the process of making art, rather than fearing the result of my art.  And I remembered how amazing it is to be where I am at, and see that the creation of this book all happened through mad stubborn persistence, diligence, pain, tears, upheaval, countless rewrites, and that fleeting feeling of triumph.

“Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue – or more precisely, have learned how to not quit (Bayles, Orland, 9).”

In the beginning, I imagined I would write a novel.  My boyfriend at the time so fascinated me that I had to capture him with words.  I thought it would just be a story of him, but it grew and grew into a whole community.  How I got there, what I was searching for, and how it all ended up.  In the end, it was not really about him or them at all.  It was about me.

I thought it would be finished in 1-2 years.  It would be published by a major with a huge book advance, become a best seller, and I would receive a movie deal within the year (how wonderful it is to be naïve and clueless).  As I slugged away at horrible jobs that paid practically nothing, this image of the victorious author got me through the worst.

Then there was the issue, that in my twenties I partied so hard and lived so much to the fullest (which makes for much of my subject matter), that it was hard to find time and a morning without a hangover to write.  But no matter.  I still lugged my computer to the coffee shop when I could, on my one day off from work a week.  Eventually, even in the early morning hours.

“To the artist, art is a verb (Bayles, Orland, 90).”

Bit by bit the pieces grew organically, and came to fit together.  The book started as a third person novel, then a novel in the 1st person, then with voices of two other characters thrown in.  Finally, three years ago, I was able to find the courage to admit that it is a memoir.  But I would not have had the guts to say what I did, if it hadn’t started out as fiction.  I also wouldn’t have come to know the other characters so well without that extra exploration.  Did I mention that I began writing this book in 2002?

“The artists life is frustrating not because the passage is slow, but because he imagines it to be fast (Bayle, Orland, 17).”

It still amazes me that I have not given up.  But on the other hand, it doesn’t amaze me at all, because I had no other choice.  I couldn’t release it from my brain until it was all written down.  And when it was finally done, it lifted like magic, and I was free of it.

I am at an age now, where the idealism begins to fade away.  I’ve watched plenty of friends give up their craft for stability.  Life is hard.  Most artists don’t survive as artists once they leave the supportive community of school.  After that, it’s just you and your art, and good luck getting people to care about what you do.  Your friends are not necessarily your fans.

Facing the fact that my book will be available to the public, I wonder how my life will change.  I will do everything I can to see that it’s successful, but there is the fear that it won’t sell.  I won’t know until I take that risk.  And whatever happens, it will still be a foundation that I can build from.

Years ago, a friend of mine read several chapters.  Paul was a young techie nerd, who was bored with life, and struggling to find social skills.  He kept talking to me about one of the main characters: a binging, partying, player who puts on a debonair act.  He became obsessed with this guy.  It didn’t take long before he was turning into him.

Suddenly, Paul was out every single night, getting wasted, and hounding women wherever he went.  In a bizarre turn of events, he married an older woman within three months of meeting her.  But he continued to go out every night, and slurred to me that he wasn’t sure how he’d gotten sucked into the institution.

At one point, he had been my best friend.  But soon, it was too embarrassing to go anywhere with him.  He was rude to bartenders who were my friends.  He was loud and obnoxious, trying to see how many curse words he could fit into one sentence.  He went from being madly intelligent and witty, to talking in circles without making any sense.  It was like watching Truman Capote’s downfall.

Was it the book?  Or was it because he also had feelings for me?  Or maybe, I was not responsible at all, and he was just on that course looking for an avenue to go down.  I don’t know.  But it was a disturbing realization that the book might be a little dangerous for the slightly unstable.

“Artmaking grants access to worlds that may be dangerous, sacred, forbidden, seductive, or all of the above.  It grants access to worlds you may otherwise never fully engage (Bayle, Orland, 108).”

I hope that my memoir shows that the world is never exactly as we are told it is, and it is up to each of us to find out for ourselves.  Every person has the right to be an adventurer, an explorer of life.  To Think for themselves.

Of course, it is dangerous to really live.  To take chances, and be open to people who are different from ourselves.  But it’s the only way to find out who we really are.  If we live in fear, we’ll remain in a bubble where nothing really happens, and nothing can really grow.

“Insist that the world must always remain x, and x is indeed exactly what you’ll get (Bayles, Orland, 111-112).”

I am excited, that soon, with the book release, my life will open up to new possibilities.  It will be out there, speaking for me, doing the work that I put into it for a decade of my life.  I will keep you all updated when it is released.

Do any of you have book release experiences to share?  Was it uplifting?  Did it feel like a let down?  Did it open your life up to new things?  Please share.





121 thoughts on “Fear Of Being Exposed

  1. I’m a memoir writer too, and I feel your fear! I’d much rather have strangers read my work – because it’s raw and vulnerable and I wonder if they know that side of me, the writerly, interior side. I’d like to talk to you more about publishing, as I am in the process of a final edit and trying to get it published.

    1. Your writing is really excellent! It’s true that so many of the people we know, never really get to know our interior selves. I would love to talk to you more about publishing. I am publishing through my own small press, and will be accepting submissions post-release. I’ve also worked as a literary agent, and have been on both sides of that table.

  2. Me too. I also feel uncomfortable about letting people I know read my writings. In fact I’ve never promoted this blog publicly and not one person I know have left a comment, And I prefer it that way.

  3. It sure is interesting to watch, as writers, how we go through the process of idealism and optimism, with waves of desolation and paralyzing fear. Although the novel I’m working to publish if much less scary to have family read because it is fictional, I still feel anxiety when they review it. It’s as if the work is a window into my soul and completely exposes me as a writer–the good, bad, and the ugly: they’re reading it all!

    Cheers to you on the journey!

    Courtney Hosny

  4. Thanks for putting this out in the ether. I had started to delve into these murky waters until I told my mother (stupidly) what I was working on. The look in her eyes when she asked, “You aren’t going to embarrass us, are you?” I haven’t touched the project in months and months.

    I imagine it must be incredibly hard to be naked in front of the world. Maybe I’ll just remove one piece of clothing at a time? 🙂

    1. Ah, yes…the creative “strip tease”…I know it well. Whether you expose yourself all at once or reveal yourself article by article, chapter by chapter,…either way, you end up naked. Take that blind leap of faith that is a requirement of growth and success. Tell you Mother, “if it embarrasses you, you did it to yourself” and write on. This isn’t about embarrassing someone…it’s about actualizing yourself as a person and an artist. Let’s see how you look naked.

  5. I had a few of my essays published in an anthology of women writers. I wanted to give the book to friends for Christmas, but was torn about letting people I know read it. I finally gave it out, and have not heard any feedback, which either means 1) they hated it, or 2) they haven’t read it. Not sure which is worse. Congratulations on your book and on being freshly pressed.

    1. I totally relate. A few friends gave no response. One even claimed that her kid spilled a drink on the manuscript, and she couldn’t finish reading it. This goes back to my learning that your friends are not necessarily your fans. Some of them don’t even like to read to begin with!

  6. Don’t let the resistance bury you. That’s what Steven Pressfield would say.

    Sit on it a little bit, show it to your Ideal Reader(s) first, come back to it for the second draft. That’s what Stephen King would say.

    F your fear. That’s what Mick Napier would say.

    All three are legit. All combined they are a writing lifestyle.

  7. I’ve been talking about writing a story, and admitted to myself, and a friend, that I haven’t even started yet because it’s been so easy to hide behind my verbal vulnerability… It’s quite a different situation when you’re pouring out your heart on paper with no reservations on the inner workings of your mind. I’m still nervous, but thanks for sharing, I feel encouraged.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  8. Congratulations on pursuing your goal regardless of situation. I wish you the very best of luck as you go through the publishing process, and as the world begins to read your masterpiece that is your life!


  9. I am in the process of finishing and getting my memoir published and I understand your fear. I would love to speak to you about writing and how you succeeded in the publishing world. Good luck! I will read your memoir when it is out! 🙂

    1. Best of luck to you with your memoir! I am building my own small press, and launching the book with the company. If you have a will to succeed, you will find a way. I also worked in publishing with the majors. So there’s a whole lot of story there about what that is like. It taught me to never take rejection personally. Big publishers make most of their money off of useless fluff. I couldn’t take it for very long.

  10. When the presses run, and you go from being a writer to being an author, your heart will grow fuller with self-respect. Enjoy the warmth of accomplishment. Let the fears fade, because they are only worry about things you never want to happen – wasted energy.

    After publication, the book is no longer about you. It is now about the reader, and you have no control over their feelings, interpretations and projections. Enjoy this new freedom. Remind yourself that you have grown far beyond what you put on the pages. Celebrate, then move on to your next project.

    I’m happy for you, as you step across this line of exposure.

  11. Congratulations! All the best for your memoir. I think art in any form is a reflection of our true selves. And yes, sometimes our friends may not like it because they know us from our outward projections. So that’s why they often remain surprised when it comes to memoirs/ autobiographies. I think while creating art especially fine art, we subconsciously introspect so much that it finds itself in the artwork in progress.

  12. There are quiet a few thoughts to that texts in my mind right now. First: This book is about YOUR point of view, even if the people in it will see things differently. Everyone has an own opinion and feelings and this is yours, so don´t worry what they might say. On the other hand I can understand very well that you´re less afaid of what strangers might say to it.
    Second: I don´t think that it was the book that changed your friend. Of course words have the power to influence us (take music for example; it often influences us in vaious ways) but there has to be a decisive factor inside of you already, otherwise you wouldn´t get attached to it.
    I´m really excited for you and this big chance. The third thing on my mind is: Even if you won´t be the next star author, you can be happy about every single person that will reach it. It´s not about the quantity of people but about the quality.
    I´m currently writing as well. It should be a fictional novel but I already see that the main character has some character skills that could be also related on me. I´m not sure what it will turn out in the end, if I even send it somewhere or if people would be interested in, but writing is a journey right now and I enjoy it!
    Wish you all the luck!

    1. Excellent advice! The best part of writing is the crazy journey it can take you on. I am a completely different person now, from where I began with my 1st book. I owe a great deal of that to the writing, because it helps you grow with understanding as you process life.

  13. Speaking as a person who has been a (thinly veiled) character in another person’s memoir, I will say that it was painful to go through her book release (it was a NY Times Bestseller), and I’m pretty sure we’ll never really be friends again (at least in “real life”). I felt used and misunderstood. On the flip side, it was cathartic and I started writing my own stories in my own blog! So I thank her for that gift. It motivated me to be my own memoirist. Good luck.

  14. I am in the beginning stages of my own memoir and the idea about how others might perceive it, particularly friends and family members, has certainly crossed my mind. It takes bravery to expose your story regardless of what others may think. Congratulations!

  15. It’s so hard to put yourself out there and know your story may not be someone else’s truth–and that they may be nasty in the way they respond. A wise friend said she forvives and hits the delete button when haters hit her blog. True dissent deserves its hearing–but haters, they’re not worth the time you took to hit delete. Be sure you distinguish between the two!

    1. In the past, I’ve engaged the haters, and it is always a waste of time. Usually, they hate because you’ve shook them up somehow, and they can’t deal with the fact that there are cracks in their foundation. This makes them completely irrational. I should delete next time that happens. But I really appreciate constructive criticism, or people who can challenge me and help develop thought.

  16. Good luck to you – are you self-publishing?
    I’m doing memoir myself, but am not anywhere near a full book yet. Not sure what my themes will turn out to be. I’m just hiding behind my blog and my work at the writing program at Johns Hopkins, instead of doing my “serious” writing! I’ll get there.
    Congrats on the FP – I wish you the best of luck!

    1. I’m publishing through my own small press. Writing a memoir is an amazing journey. It’s the best way to find understanding of yourself and those around you. Living through my other characters, I came to understand why they treated me the way they did. It was quite a breakthrough.

  17. Great post, I entirely understand your fear and the sense of downfall; somewhere I read that the worst risk is taking none, somehow reading posts like this inspire me to continue on my own risks!

    Will be following you.

  18. Be ready for utterly bizarre reactions. In the space of two days last week, I had a guy in his 50s attend one of my library readings and exclaim “I love your book! I stayed up til 1:30 last night reading it” — and being utterly slagged and slandered by two random readers on the Internet. As we say in NY, go figure.

    Some readers will SHRED your character and behaviors, your motives and writing ability. They will use you like a scratching post. Or…they’ll coo and blush with the thrill of even meeting you. There is no way to know what they’ll think or who will “get it.” Memoir means laying your life and your decisions and your perspectives out for strangers to rummage through. Some will be so vicious in their “reviews” it will take your breath away. Others will write you heartfelt grateful emails.

    That’s memoir, baby!

    Here’s a link to my book, which has been out since April 2011.


    1. Your 1st chapter is excellent! I love reading and writing about what jobs are really like on the inside. “Nickeled And Dimed” is a favorite. As far as reader reactions, it’s a roller coaster. Blogging has given me a lot of practice with what to expect in that regard. I’ve had some nasty haters, and other people who made me cry with happiness.

  19. The statement, “It’s okay for a stranger to not like it, or not get it, but when it’s your friend, it means that they don’t really get you at all” really hit home with me. I have only had a few poems published and none of my friends understand why they were so dark. I am currently and ever so slowly working on my own memoir. The fear that friends won’t understand is hard to take. They were there with me right, in the same existence of life? It makes me wonder how they were ever friends at all if they do not understand. I believe it is because we all have roles to play according to the situation to either protect ourselves or protect others. Still, the fear of abandonment because of a personal publishing is a heavy weight to consider. You just have to follow your dreams and passions. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    1. I connected and relate to the same statement. Would much rather have strangers read me than those who actually “know” me. Seems too one-sided for them to know our thoughts and us not theirs- should they be a part of our lives. There is something about the vulnerability in exposing our truths that both terrifies and excites.

  20. It is very brave of you to take such a big step, but I’m glad that you did! Congratulations!
    I definitely agree that when creating something original, it’s most important to focus on the process-that’s the only way the work will come together, after all.

    Criticism is not always a bad thing, though, because it can sometimes bring to light something we missed and may even start an interesting conversation, as long as the person has a valid reason for criticizing.
    So, whether a work will be received negatively or positively, the fact remains that the work was completed and your goal in getting your voice heard was accomplished 🙂
    Best of luck to you!

  21. I’m so impressed that you are publishing a memoir and that you are starting your own press to do so.
    I am writing a book, a fantasy story set in another place & time (and world, but it will look so much like ours that that part likely doesn’t matter much) as a way of exploring those things in my life that impact me the most. I have a hard time with the idea of putting them straight up out in the open because I am, in fact, ridiculously afraid of hurting some people’s feelings. I know in my head that sometimes that just happens and that you can’t take responsibility for other people’s reactions, but I’m not the point yet where my heart can accept that and so my written blog posts are tucked away in a corner of my hard drive, waiting for the day I feel brave enough to let them out.
    Point being: I’m glad I read your post because it gives me hope that I can find and nurture that courage in myself.
    Good luck with your memoir, I hope it does well and brings you great success. 🙂

  22. Congratulations! Writing any kind of book is a struggle, but I think it takes a particular kind of courage and persistence when it’s your own story. And I really admire you for taking on the job of running your own press as well. Best of luck with the book!

  23. I decided to write narrative non-fiction. I take parts of my experiences and mash together some places, some time, some spaces. My experiences seemed best suited for short stories and I am just starting to send out proposals and blog. Best of luck! I am now following!

  24. When I was a student I became more and more convinced that the entire world, everything and everyone in it was just a product of my thought process and contained in all it’s complexity in my [brain], and nothing existed as a physical entity. Sometimes I still wonder whether that is true. I do know that when you read this, for a short moment I am taking over your brain and my words are speaking inside yours brain. Now that’s weird. Tony

  25. Congratulations to you. I think memoirs are beautiful things. My mom had hers published about 3 years ago now. I learned more about her than I ever thought possible. It was one of those eureka moments where I realized she was a child, teen, young woman once too. Her memoir focused on growing up in a certain neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario. Response by people who had also grown up there was overwhelmingly positive. Is there a central theme through your book? Is it alcoholism?

    1. Getting to read a mother’s memoir sounds like a wonderful gift. I was able to read my grandmother’s poetry a while ago, and I wished that she had been even more open in her words than she was. But back then, people were much more private and guarded. My book is about growing up in an extremely religious and repressed environment, and how that affected me as a young adult trying to find myself. I went off the deep end, and plunged into a community of polyamorous pagans. In both communities, I was a pawn in someone else’s game. When I eventually left those two extremes behind, I learned how to be a balanced individual, and how to really think for myself. I let go of the mindset that I’d been trained into, and finally became free to find my own happiness.

      1. That’s just what I’ve been writing about, only different. Realizing you’re capable of thinking for yourself, it feels like a miracle.

        I’ll keep myself posted with your writing.

  26. Thank You for writeing this I am going to be sumbiting a deeply personal memoir piece to a writing contest this month and have been feeling fear your blog entry helped put me at ease.

  27. Hello 🙂

    I’m one of the masses who ‘want’ to get published, so congratulations to you on having a book out soon. Have to say, if your work reads just as fluidly as it did here, then I’m going to be in line for that book. 🙂

  28. I too have a 7 year old novel in the works, just a bit of serious criticism sent me into hiding. Now it seems like someone else’s book. except I hate not completing a creative project. so i blog and write reviews of books movies. It all matters and I do it for that moment of satisfaction I feel when I complete an article and think it is good if only for an hour or as long as a whole day. keep going keep writing . at least we have the internet. good luck.

  29. I found this to be quite inspirational and uplifting. I empathize with your fear of exposure, it’s a bare bones portrayal of yourself every time you craft something true to your heart. To have someone disagree or disapprove is almost as if they disagree or disapprove with you as a person. But, you are smart and strong enough to know that is not the case.

    Your dedication to the memoir is awe-inspiring especially to someone who has difficulty coming up with a simple post these days.

    Keep it up!

  30. In a writing workshop we were expected to read aloud what we had written. I couldn’t do it without getting all choked up. Even a verse about rocks made me cry! I don’t know why. It was embarassing.
    I don’t like it when someone stands over my shoulder, trying to read what I’ve written. I would rather go incognito.
    I think your book will sell. I wnt to read it. Good luck!

  31. Thanks for quoting from “Art and Fear.” I bought that book at least a couple years ago. What helped me more was “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” art-wise. For the fear, I would prescribe boldness. Boldness! But I’m wondering: how many sequels to a memoir are there?

    1. Yes, boldness! I love that. I have one sequel to my memoir, about living in New York amidst an intense artistic community. I’m about half way through that project. Then there are two narrative non-fiction pieces that I’ve been researching for several years now. The more the process develops, the more the ideas come. Our nature is to grow.

  32. hi! from what I’Ive just read, I’d say that as a person whom you don’t know, exactly as a reader, you captured my interest. You have created the eagerness in me to read more of your views. Maybe for one, you have expressed some thoughts similar to my perspectives. In such toughness and wit, “feared” like everyone else in reality (and vulnerability is something we tried not to be accessed by anyone) esp. you are at the verge of letting people “walk through your life” by reading your memoir. But I’m sure, a different ‘you’ will arise as you are acknowledged by your craft. Kudos for the most-awaited!

    1. Thank you so much! What you’ve said here, is what I always hope for. To put voice to other’s thoughts, and not just my own. To somehow crystalize what we’re all thinking. It’s a marvelous feeling of connection.

  33. I don’t like having people I know read my stuff either. I feel so raw and exposed! I really enjoyed your style in this post, and wish you all the best with your book release.

  34. Your line “life is hard” sums it all up. People so rarely follow their dreams and ambitions because life gets in the way. I want to start writing a book soon but have yet to start page one for fear of rejection and that’s page one! Life may be hard but life is also short. So I say go for it- don’t let your fear of being exposed stop you from following your dreams. That way you will never have any regrets.

  35. To me, every post I write is like publishing a memoir. Not that I focus on only personal stuff, but everything I talk about is, I feel, a reflection of me. That is why I work and work and work to make sure everything is as perfect as possible before pushing the “publish” button on my wordpress page. I am a perfectionist and a self-editor to a flaw. For this reason, I can’t possibly post every day. But I’m getting better.

    Deep down, we’re all people. No one has their shit all together. Everyone has problems. And the beauty of writing is that we can share and relate to one another. That’s what makes us human.

    I won’t lie, though. I *do* feel self-conscious, too.

  36. i think memoirs arre for people who have lived thru a lot. i dont know how old you are, but i congratulate you on this project. hope it sees the light of day. those who do not know will certainly handlle it better

  37. Great post! I think as writers we all can totally relate to what you wrote. We share the inner most parts of ourselves as writers and we never really know how it will be received. But sharing the tough stuff is what keeps it interesting and usually putting out there what most wouldn’t dare. That’s what makes us all writers.

  38. Your writing is so great, I love this post! I completely understand your statement that you can’t get something out of your brain until you write it down. I think that frenzied feeling is what connects all writers together. It makes us all a little bit the same.

  39. yup, I know how it feels. It’s like a two-sided coin I think, you want to spill it out but you’re fear that your state of mind will be misunderstood or misinterpreted by others. but what the heck. here we are now getting published all the times 😀


  40. I feel you. I am only starting to get serious with my blog, blogging about thoughts that could shake many of my friends/family and life that could make them either envious or scoff at me. i still haven’t really been able to come to terms with being open about private issues on my blog.! So i would really rather strangers read then friends/family.

    wish you a awesome success with your memoir and do send one to me when it does get publish (cross fingers!)

  41. I do not write memoires. But poems and novels. It still shows a fair amount of who you are to the outside world. All I can say is that you have to write for yourself, it has to be your song, and nobody else’s. If they like it or not, is not the issue in the end. It is uplifting to know people like what you write and it makes you want to keep going, that is for sure. But even so: If they don’t like it, it is still yours. I have not had the expected outcome on my first published novel (through an online publisher in Germany – well the book is in German, but my poems are mostly in English) – but I still keep going. There are times when I think, what the heck am I doing? Why bother? But then words just pop into me and I cannot help but write, that is all. Because it gives me a space where I belong – so keep going! No matter what. It is your life, it is your song!

  42. Reblogged this on You Don't Even Know and commented:
    This is exactly how I feel about my blog. I realize that I haven’t written anything. I haven’t decided how much of my life I want to share just yet. Many kudos to the brave souls who make themselves vulnerable to the reader.

    I agree with the writer, I’d rather have people I don’t know at all read what I write instead of those close to me. I’m hoping to find a nice balance that works for me.

  43. What a heartfelt post, I understand where you are coming from but you have to be true to yourself. Some people say write something and then forget about it, don’t judge it, just see what happens. I am nominating you for my weekly saturday post called giving something back. It is where i honour the great blogs I have found in the week. Please drop by saturday if you are not too busy, You will find me at http:athenabrady.co.uk

  44. “If we live in fear, we’ll remain in a bubble where nothing really happens, and nothing can really grow”. I agree on this phrase. We never really know what we’re capable of until we take a chance and stand on it and face our fears. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best! your post is very inspiring! Well deserved on FP.

  45. Good luck with your book. I guess writing a memoir is tougher than writing fiction because you have to be honest and sometimes it takes real guts to acknowledge truth in black and white.

  46. I really enjoyed this post. I am also about to publish my first book and can relate to so much of what you are saying here. Although I write fiction, and can hide behind the whole “I made it up” disclaimer, I also struggled with the fallout of being a writer. I had to learn to write as if no one was ever going to read it. And then once it was written, I had to give the idea that I had any control of what anyone would say or think about it. I admire the courage it must take to write and publish a memoir, and I will be on the look out for it once it becomes available.

  47. You are very brave. I have just scribbled a review of Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ at my blog and I am now pleased to be able to tell you that he lied, was very selective with his truths, obscured information to protected his image and did not allow its publication until after his death. Your standards seem considerably higher.

  48. I want to write a memoir about the many strange things that I’ve encountered after I was diagnosed with bi-polar. But, now I realize that I have so many projects — including a play from 2002 — that say a lot about me, and that maybe I should work on before delving into THE NOMADIC PLANE. Living with bi-polar is scary at times, but I think you’re right – if you’re not scared to death, then you might not be really living. I’d like to think that being scared keeps me the most sane in that way. Thanks for this post – and for letting me fall into a bit of a tangent. Keep up the writing!

  49. Best of luck to you. I haven’t been working on my book for near as long as you have on yours but not a paragraph goes by without wondering how people in my life would/will react to it. After all, the things I write down are the things that I couldn’t bring myself to say outloud.

  50. I found the post while searching through the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress. I am not a “real” writer, but I have to say I felt like this post was speaking to me. I have always enjoyed writing-as a kid I wrote poems for all of my friends, and family members. In high school, I kept a journal, and now I am experimenting with writing a blog. I want to be as open and honest about the things I like to write and think about-my sexuality, my insecurities, my views on life-but find it hard to do so knowing that people I know will read it. That is actually the reason why I want to write down all the thoughts that go through my head, so that the people I know can get to know me better, but it is scary!! I am glad to see that I am not alone in this fear. So, thank you for this post..it was reassuring 🙂 I am going to start following you, as I am really curious about this memoir!! I wish you the best of luck with it!!

  51. I have never written a book, so I can’t answer your questions. I can tell you that time and again I have started to write one. The kind of book that suits me most is a memoir. Non-fiction. But I am held back by the thought that it might hurt people and that people won’t appreciate it. So I tried writing fiction. I do love fiction. But it seems that somehow it is just not for me. Maybe some day I will find the courage to write what I have to say.

    Oh, also: I relate to what you said, about rather having people you don’t know reading your stuff than people you do know. It’s why I keep my blogs far, far away from my Facebook page, for example.

    Anyway, with writing like yours, your book will be a success. (Also, a DECADE?! That’s f*cking impressive.)

  52. Such an interesting point. I wrote a post on my blog about depression detailing the events of my life that led to where I am now. Once I posted it, I had dozens of people praising me for being so brave and vulnerable, and a few people who denounced me for “airing dirty laundry.” That is always the tough thing about exposing yourself, specifically when it comes to any sort of a memoir. But you can’t let the fear hold you back from creating your art and sharing your story. I commend you.


  53. I think its really important that you pointed out that to grow we have to take risks and be open to different people around us. That is the only way we are going to grow and learn. I am not keen on sharing my work with friends, acquaintances and people who know of me. I don’t mind sharing it with those closest to me though but I think if we want to get anywhere we have to take those risks and share it with people we normally wouldn’t. I am working on it.

  54. Your story sounds really familiar, bringing out a book can be really frightening. People who read the book might just get a wrong idea of who you are. A book is always personal and when you’re book gets rejected it feels as if you’ve been rejected. Great post 🙂

  55. My dear, this is simply wonderful. I would’t my if some one could tech me how to write a memoir or even publish a book? I thought i knew it but as time passes by i become more scared at making the attempt. How do i muster the courage to begin? Once again, congratulations and peace be with you!

  56. Your hesitation and trepidation is at sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences with the world is one that most of us can rebate to. It is indeed scary and criticism I’d sure to come. Not everyone will agree with you, but you shall feel a level of relief once you’ve published and out your work is out in the open. Plus you would have benefited others who may relate to your story.

    Judging by the number of comments, you can rest assured there’s a high likelihood that your published story will resonate with others. I saw this inspiring story of a 6-year old telling a young adult how to deal with fear. Worth viewing. http://wp.me/p39s29-k

  57. I am not a book writer, but I understand the fear you speak of well. The fear of revealing yourself, being vulnerable, and consequently ripped apart emotionally. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s good to hear that I am not the only one who fears these things. My own journey is only beginning, but at least I’m not alone in the struggle.

    Wish you well on your book release! Oh, and thanks for plugging that book, “Art & Fear…”. It’s now on my wishlist 🙂

  58. Great post! Yes, I tell myself everyday that I don’t need to wait until everyone is dead just so that I can write about them. I’ll just do it anyway so that I feel alive, so that I can live.

  59. Congratulations of your book. I easily related to the fear about which you wrote. I feel like I am constantly scribing a memoir in my head and have often put thoughts down on paper, only to throw my hands in the air thinking about the fact that MY memories don’t just involve me. I have always had trouble resolving how I would incorporate the characters in my life in their true light (which makes for some really funny stories) without offending them.

  60. I have a pretty personal blog myself, I tell a lot of stories from my past, often including others. It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand I want to be true to and emotionally honest, on the other hand I want to be respectful. If I go too far in one direction, someone might get their feelings hurt. If I go too far in the other, the story becomes overwhelmed with disclaimers and attempts to sympathize with the other people involved.

  61. I know your fear too. I call it ‘see me, but don’t look at me’ on my blog. It’s really a challenge to publish your thoughts so that everybody and their grand-ma can read it. But it’s true too, that it’s the choice you (and we all) make as a writer. Everyone reads a story in a different way, you can’t know how people involved in the book are going to react, but I hope they will be forgiving and see it as what it is: your own perception of a moment in time. Memoirs are a very subjective topic (at least I think so)
    We want to be seen or else we wouldn’t publish our work, we would hide it away in a drawer under layers of clothes… it requires courage and a thick skin to open up. kudos to you!
    I wish you all the best with your book and want to thank you for sharing your fear. I am still at the beginning of exposing myself and presenting myself to the world, but I feel with you. (sorry for the lengthy comment 🙂 )

  62. Oh my goodness. I have no idea where to start with all I want to say. You’re the kind of blogger with whom I would just love to sit at a cafe and have an extensive, deep and philosophical conversation.

    On friends: Okay, so, I tend to withdraw from Facebook. Why? Because my friends and my other “friends” often have vastly different interests and priorities than do I. For the majority, I crave intention. I crave more than a series and inundation of likes, photo comments and LOLs. That’s what Facebook is on the daily. Quite frankly I get so much more out of expanding my horizons and my network elsewhere. This is why I write.

    So I just had to get that off my chest because you mentioned the topic of friends not really being a fan of artwork. That is EXACTLY it. Some might like here and there, but when I post things from my blog. People might like the post itself from the Facebook platform and that’s about it. I have to directly share it with people once they start asking me about what I do. I am glad for their readership, but it still reduces down to a one-time thing.

    You touch on the deep matter of the artists’ struggles, Lauren. You really do. This is an ongoing conversation for real.

    As for book promotions, I have been working with Linda Cureton in publicizing and advertising her book, The Leadership Muse. I never really saw that vulnerability until recently when I realized how much of a one-woman show she was up until I sat down with her and started talking about press releases, optimization, targeting, and other things related to marketing. I would say that it’s uplifting because I am directly drawing upon my marketing background to help her achieve her vision and at the same time hone my skills even more. Although I studied art, I feel like I might as well have been minoring in business. I had to seek out my own independent learning avenues. That’s me. That’s still my art. That was my resilience and so it goes.

    1. Sitting in a cafe and having a talk – the feeling is mutual!

      Whenever an art student tells me that they’re just going to do their paintings and hope they sell, I feel kind of sad. They don’t teach those marketing skills enough in art school, and I think a lot of people aren’t prepared for what it’s really like once they get out there. It’s the same for most writers I talk to. To be an independent, creative person, you have to be your #1 proponent. As they say, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no one else will.

      And yes, I’ve felt down on facebook for a long time. So I know what my friends are up to all of the time, but I haven’t seen most of them in months. The writer Jennifer Egan spoke about how we live in a culture of disembodied voices, and how it’s like being surrounded by ghosts, rather than people.

      On being a one woman show – I have a book release party coming up in April, and I am scared to death, but also extremely excited! It’s going to be at a literary hub, so I think it will be great for getting the word out, and hopefully seeing some new faces.

  63. I’ve never written a book, yet I know exactly how you feel. Or so I think. The feeling of being exposed…I am an artist who, for the inability to write a simple artist statement, has turned to blogging. I have also lived a double life and partied way to hard in my 20’s. No regrets!

    I have yet to fully “come out”:-)

  64. Well, if the style the book is written in is anything like your writing here, you’re onto a winner. I found your post very engaging and non-pretentious. Good luck with the publication.

  65. Reblogged this on MOONWYND STUDIO | Photos Writing Art and commented:
    The title of this post says it all! Serving up our bare souls to everyone is terrifying, to say the least; that’s why writing and painting is so darn hard. It’s like falling in love. You’ve got to trust that your heart will not be broken, but sometimes it is. Sometimes what we write or paint is not held up to wide acclaim; but, we’ve got to do it anyway. Our souls demand to be heard and seen, even if there is pain involved. Happy writing and painting anyway. Love, MoonWynd

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