I am naked in a bookstore near you.Big box, chain or indie.You can find me there.

The unflattering florescent lighting exposes all and opens me up for discussion, comment and speculation.I am less than a pound and 384 pages long.All those jiggly, messy bits of me that I am usually so good at masking are out there for all to see. I wanted this and now I am terrified. The enormity of the conundrum leaves me dry-mouthed with sweaty palms.

Cracking the spine of the book is more intimate than parting my thighs for sex. You are in my head.I invited you in and you curled right up at the base of my cortex.Snug and tight as a copper coil.Allow me to whisper a confession.I had no idea.None.The physical body may be more accessible and I can deal with that—but my head – what was inside—has always been my own.Years and years of writing fiction for no one but myself, of publishing here and there and yet, enough to keep me going, of having an audience I could count on one hand – had not prepared me for the nakedness of this moment.

When I teach a fiction workshop to High School students I always tell them to write without self-editing.Ignore that voice in your head that tells you that your mother might read this, your grandmother, your father, your teachers.Turn it off because if you are thinking about all those people while you are writing—the writing isn’t true.Besides technical stuff, besides structure and voice, it is the single most important piece of information I think any writer needs to know.And I thought I did know.I thought I was ready.I tell them now while that piece of advice still stands – I had no idea how much of myself I had revealed.That now I had to relinquish everything because I simply had no control over how my words on the page affected people and how in turn they now viewed me.Not the characters I created, but me.The person.Let it go.Add that as the second piece of most valuable advice writers need to know.

The first question most people ask me after they read the book: “Is it real?”

And I answer: “No, It’s fiction.”

To which they respond with a smirk, a cocked brow or a stare of disbelief.

“But,” they will continue.“How do you know these things?”

That question stops me dead.How do I know these things?How do you answer that?I am a voyeur.I am curious.I know how to use Wikipedia and Google.Really—what response would satisfy that question?

And then there are the people who have told me: “That (meaning something in my book) could never have happened in real life.”

My first defense used to be a justification about fiction.After answering that way for a few months I slowly began to realize that their knee jerk reaction to the reality of it all is masking something else.Usually the reader has been affected in some way – be it disturbed or delighted – and they want me to reassure them that my book is indeed a fictional world where the lines with reality will never blur.You stay on that side and I’ll stay over here.Never the two shall meet.

I have lost a fraction of anonymity. Some people hate me, some love me, and some are indifferent. I have been ranked, reviewed, discussed, maligned, mocked, rebuked, targeted, revered, and stroked.Stars ranging from one to five follow my name.Even the Internet knows me. You are forever in cyberspace, someone recently said.When I get letters from people who say they are glad they found me and the book, I feel lost – even though I’ve always been here.At book groups, at readings, at Q & A’s, some have confessed their innermost anxieties, fears, longings and desires.When the atmosphere becomes too confessional I have to beg off, step back, and make sure the line between fiction and reality still exists because I am afraid that if I don’t I will never write again.I don’t want to accidentally tell someone else’s story.I don’t want to give something away that doesn’t belong to me but will forever be attributed to me as if I have lived it and felt it all because it is on the page.

I’m learning to live with the panic of being found out.I want to be here. I am grateful to be here – I am slowly regaining my equilibrium.I had thought I could separate the parts of me that had nothing to do with the book until I realized I was lying to myself.I am the book.I am right there in every word, every sentence, every paragraph, and every page.Naked.

And yet, I am not.

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ROBIN ANTALEK is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins2010). The Summer We Fell Apart was featured as a Target Breakout Book in 2010 and was published in Turkey by Artemis Seveler in 2011. Robin's short fiction has appeared in Fifty-Two Short Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, among others. She was a finalist for The Tobias Wolff Award for Short Fiction as well as a two time finalist in the Glimmer Train Family Matters and Short Fiction Contests. She is also a regular contributor at The Nervous Breakdown. For news and updates: www.robinantalek.com or Robin Antalek on Facebook.

62 responses to “Naked in a Book Store Near You”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    It’s sort of like the Sylvia Plath poem “Metaphors”: I’ve just eaten a bag of green apples / Boarded the train, there’s no getting off

    It is a very odd feeling, to have it all out there. It’s hard to describe, and I don’t think anything can prepare you for it. Right now, people are reading your book — people who don’t even know; it sort of blows your mind. Because it’s not just losing a fraction of anonymity, as you nicely put it; it’s gaining a fraction of celebrity. And celebrity is uncomfortable….Updike called it a mask that eats away at the face. (On the scale of fame, which ranges from 0 to Obama’ perfect 100, I feel like I moved from a 0 to a .025 the night of my book launch in New York; another well-placed review and I might catch Balloon Boy’s mother at .05).

    Your book is excellent, and it’s also doing very well (the two rarely correlate), which means more people will say nasty things about it, especially on the blogger circuit. But it also means you’re going to be around for awhile, so you have to get used to it. I suspect that it all gets easier with Book #2, and I hope I’ll be able to tell you so definitively.

    Also: I wouldn’t be surprised if Ang Lee or somebody like that makes it into a movie; is Sandra Bullock too old to play Kate? Kate was my favorite.

    • Greg– I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you will be able to tell me definitively what it’s like to publish the second book — I’m happy to ride the coat tails of your publishing knowledge – and I’m just guessing here although it’s a pretty good hunch– but I think you may surpass Balloon Boy’s mother in celebrity status one day soon. At least in our TNB world you already have!

      Funny you brought up movie casting– this seems to be a favorite game of a lot of book groups I visit. The last group had Laura Linney as Kate and Shirley MacLaine as Marilyn with either Nick Nolte or Jeff Bridges as Richard. Not sure if Sandy Bullock rocks my world…. but Ang Lee — be still my heart! But I’m thinking TK lends itself to film as well– come on — your trailer rocked!!

      • Greg Olear says:

        I’ll fill you in on the TK film details, such as they are, in person, hopefully soon for lunch, and if not, at Gina’s Slut Lullaby party in May.

        Laura Linney, no no NO. God NO. People have no imagination!

        Amy – Ellen Page
        George – Taylor Lautner
        Kate – Parker Posey (although Sandra Bullock looks like her, too, the way I imagined)
        Finn – Taylor Kitsch (the cute guy from Friday Night Lights…trust me on this)
        Miriam – the actress who played the lead in Inglourious Basterds
        Marilyn – Annette Bening (in makeup to look older if need be)
        Richard – Jeff Daniels. Not Jeff Bridges. Wrong Jeff.

        That’s off the top of my head. If I ponder it, I’ll do better.

        And thanks for the good vibes re: Book #2. (sidenote: Is it a breach of protocol to ask you to blurb a book that isn’t written yet?) And I hope your hunch is right, for the sake of the people who depend on me for their livelihood…

        Incidentally, the official name of the little cartoon guy who graces this site is Balloon Boy.

        • I love this game —

          Ok to Ellen Page — good call — I just saw the Roller Derby movie that Drew Barrymore directed her in – cute.

          No to Taylor Lautner– weird nose– altho my younger teen says he’s “hot” George stumps me. And what about Sam??

          Parker for Kate! Our dogs once played together at the dog park in Union Square. She and I had a very interesting conversation that included yellow dog vomit ( her dog’s not mine) and when to call the vet. She took my advice and I worried for days afterwards if I might have killed PP’s dog – but then I saw her alive and well again and breathed a sigh of relief. She was half heartedly reading a script at the time we talked — I was dying to know what it was — but I couldn’t see the title without appearing crazed.

          Finn — I’ll have to find out who this Taylor guy is….

          A huge YES to Miriam’s Inglorious Basterds actress

          Marilyn– I do love Annette Bening — she did a superb job in Running With….as well as American…

          And I agree — for Richard — I have always had a soft spot for Jeff Daniels — who could forget him with Debra Winger in Terms? And the dad in Squid??

          I do hope we have lunch soon — you should take a drive this way one fine Spring day….

        • Greg Olear says:

          Taylor K:

          http://www.iballer.com/malecelebs/kitsch_taylor/images/kitsch_taylor12_jpg.jpg

          He’s a good actor, too.

          I don’t love Taylor L, but he seems to present himself well, he could certainly pass as a gay man, he’s cute in a dorky way, etc. We can do better. But one of those young WB actors. Although you could make a case for Michael Cera, too.

          I love Parker Posey. She’d be perfecto.

        • Parker Posey is perfect! I love her. And if she’s perfect for something, it automatically means that thing is great, period.

  2. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Amen. Speak it!!! With time, this all gets easier, Robin. The edge goes away. Somehow, a debut novelist gets used to people thinking what s/he wrote is “REAL,” that s/he is brillliant, that s/he is an idiot, blah blah. Sometimes, the horrifying becomes funny—like when a reader told me she used my author photo to imagine what the narrator of my novel looks like. (Never mind the narrator is described in some detail, and I do NOT resemble her.) Being a writer takes on a degree of sacredness when one bears witness to readers’ personal stories.

    If you’re feeling these things, suffice it to say you did your job—and you did it WELL. Congratulations! Encore….

    • Being a writer does indeed take on a degree of sacredness in regards to bearing witness — beautifully said, Ronlyn. At first it was extremely unnerving– time and what little experience I have gained over the past months since publication has brought an undefinable, yet exquisite grace to these moments.

      Thanks for offering your words here– it means so much.

  3. Matt says:

    Nicely done, Robin.

    I look forward to reading the book as soon as my finances allow. Too many TNBers (as well as people I went to school with) have been putting out books lately, and my checkbook can’t keep up.

    And I admit, I look forward to experiencing this feeling one day.

    • I’ll be cheering you on — your day will come– TNB writers are taking over the publishing world! Didn’t I read on FB that your whale piece is being used in the classroom? Bravo!

      • Matt says:

        Yes! Which is a huge bit of surreality that I have not yet quite finished wrapping my brain around.

        I expect a cease and desist letter from SeaWorld any day now.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Yes, Matt — I meant to write a note to the effect of, Great job, enjoy the buzz, and words to that effect, but my short term memory has vanished.

          Cease and desist? From SeaWorld? Something funky happens like that, it’s an A-wire AP story. I have my connections.

        • Maybe one day they’ll look back on the TNB Generation as the first big literary movement of the 21st century.

  4. jmblaine says:

    Whoo I felt a little flush
    just reading
    about cracking the spine.
    I’ve always thought that
    when you read a book
    and someone really lays it
    all
    out there
    how can they be so brave?

    I am so
    YA.

    • How I love your comment poems! The first time I was on the receiving end I did a little happy dance– and I’m doing one again now. Clothed. Of course. And no where near the book store.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Forgot to ask, in my initial comment: have you been in a bookstore since your book came out? I am terrified of entering bookstores. It’s an unanticipated side effect of the book being out. I’m nervous if it’s there, and I’m nervous if it’s not.

        • Anxious!! Book store visits make me ANXIOUS!! Friends and family who call me to say they either did or didn’t find my book in a store make me ANXIOUS! The ones who send me cell phone pics and rearrange my books in stores make me smile!!

          I hope I’m not coming off as ungrateful for this moment– I am all too aware of how many people want to be in my exact position — and I am enjoying myself and I am so grateful for all the book love that’s come my way. I wrote the piece because what happens after you publish is so rarely talked about — ( aside from the NYT chart busters) — and writers by nature ( at least in my experience) are a fairly insecure and anxious bunch — I suspect it’s all in The Secret Writers Handbook — the one they don’t give out until you crack the above mentioned list.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Yes. High anxiety. I have to feel really confident about life before I show my face at a bookstore. And I agree — I love to see pix of the book displayed, or dispatches from folks that it’s still at the counter at Book Soup in LA.

          I don’t think you sound ungrateful at all. You’re expressing something we all feel, in some form. There’s a reason Gina and Ronlyn and I dashed alacritously to your comment board (I’m sure Duke will, too, when he wakes up…people are always asking him if his book is a memoir, and what’s true, and all that).

        • TK deserves the counter at Book Soup! Yes!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, I have finally woken — for a moment.

          Actually, people don’t ask if my book is a memoir; they assume it is, and they often appear disappointed when I tell them otherwise. Even then they want to know which parts are “true” and which parts are not. Of course, at the end of the book, Jason says it is a memoir (and, for him, it would be), so I suppose I invited such reactions.

          When I was writing the book, people would ask if it was fiction or non-fiction, and my answer — “lt’s a novel” — obviously confused many. It’s a sad day when people don’t even know what a novel is. And how’s this for sad? An acquaintance self-published a book that he advertised on MySpace as a “fiction novel.”

          At any rate: I, like you, Robin, was unprepared for what’s come my way since publication, and my only saving grace, I think, has been that I’ve labored so bloody hard to get the word out about the book that I haven’t had time to feel as peeled as I know I would otherwise. At the same time, the promotion side of things has turned me into a zombie. I really need to be working on my next book — and I mean “need” in the emotional sense — but I don’t have time. Plus, I no longer feel like a writer. I don’t know what I am by now. Creatively, I feel like a cipher.

          Isn’t this a cheery comment? But better minds than mine say that things improve with the next book, so I’ll defer to them. And I know you’ll go on to finish another book, which will undoubtedly find its way into print, since Summer, as Greg has already pointed out, is doing so well. Which proves that, occasionally, there is some justice. (I was about to write “some justice in the world,” that hoary cliche, which begs the question: Where, other than the world, would the human concept of justice exist?)

        • Duke– Thanks so much for being here– your comments always mean so much. Check your FB messages — I sent you a note. ~ R

  5. Robin, I absolutely love this post. I think you’ve articulated the paradox perfectly. Your success is well earned, well deserved, and yet . . . yikes! Sort of terrifying.

    When Greg recently told me that your book is now available in Target, my first instinct was panic on your behalf, for exactly the reasons you describe here. My second was that–holy shit–you are probably going to actually make some real money: something that very few literary fiction writers attain these days, to the point that we feel gauche, mercenary and embarrassed if we actually aspire to someday not have to fund our own book tours. I hope this proves true!

    Yet even so, success is certainly a double-edged sword. This is the paradox: that writers write in order to “communicate” and to connect with others, and yet, of course, we didn’t . . . uh . . . mean the entire audience of a mega store, or every blogger on the planet. We didn’t mean we wanted to be subjected to that level of scrutiny, have our privacy invaded, and have people we’ve never met speculate about our psyches or our relative talent both on the internet and to our faces at our readings, as though we were Brangelina or something. This sounds terrifying, and to the extent that I experienced any of it with my (small indie) first novel, it WAS terrifying. As I famously cite on TNB, my mother-in-law didn’t speak to me for half a year after my first novel came out. Christ! Yes, a novel is a lot “safer” inside your head.

    I remember thinking about this when Alice Sebold, who is a friend of several of my friends, hit it huge with The Lovely Bones. Just thinking about how one day Alice was this normal struggling writer with a beautiful-if-obscure memoir under her belt, and the next moment she was on the Today Show and everybody wanted a piece of her, was enough to give me an anxiety attack.

    But there is a good part, too, right? Although your privacy is invaded, it’s also true that your characters now have the opportunity to be known, recognized, discussed by a wide group of people who are invested in them . . . who see them as “real people” just as you do. Book clubs shed tears over their losses and choices–people are staying up at night thinking about them. They are no longer your imaginary friends, so to speak, but have become almost flesh and blood to a whole group of people out there. And THAT, more than selling copies or getting reviews or going on tour, well, that is just really, really cool, and why writers write: because we become obsessed with these people, and we have to put them “out there.” People may not always even like our characters, just as they don’t always like the real people they know, but the characters exist in a sphere outside your head, and the bigger your book, the wider your distribution, the more your privacy is invaded, the more those characters are able to enter the world.

    If my own fame-o-meter ever surpasses Balloon Boy’s Mother (love that, Greg!), I will be comforting myself with this aspect of things . . . well, and I would definitely take the resulting check from Target and go to some sunny island with no internet connection for a few weeks, and chill out where I could not check to see what the bloggers were saying now.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Gina, you are at least at the level of Balloon Boy’s father, I assure you. 🙂

      I might add that you, Ronlyn, and Robin have it worse than I do in that sense — no one assumes anything in my book is real. Which is ironic, because everything in my book is real.

    • Gina– you are wonderful! Thanks so much for this amazing comment! My mother-in-law has not spoken to me since she read the book. I’m at the two month mark. I’m wondering if I’ll have to wait another four — and then — what will she say? Lucky for me geography works in our favor and we are not forced to have daily contact.

      The experiences I have had so far have certainly surpassed my expectations of publishing a “debut novel.” It is hard to put into words how grateful I am– yet how absolutely freaked out I am at the same time. And I know I’m no where near experiencing what Alice Sebold did — I cannot even imagine. Lock me up. Naked in a book store times a million.

      After reading Slut Lullabies – -and the subjects you tackle so fearlessly – I started to wonder if readers react differently to women writing so clearly and graphically about sex– about violence — about the stuff that makes up real life. The sections of my book that get the most reader questions are indeed — those dealing with these same subjects. People can’t seem to wrap their head around the fact that I, as woman and a mother, could write about such things or would even want to write about such things. (I certainly am presuming that this is why my mother-in-law is having a hard time speaking to me right now). And since I also write from the male POV ( as do you) I am often asked if the sex and violence was written that way because I thought men would think that way.

      My answer is a resounding NO– it came organically from the character’s voice, from the character’s head — of course then it begs the question: why would you choose these people for your imaginary friends?

      That, I suppose, is the mystery and the joy of writing. I have absolutely no idea – I am just grateful that I go to spend some time with them and tell their stories… and that they have found their space in the wide open world.

      BTW — I think you and Greg are way underestimating your place on the fame-o-meter. You are God and Goddess here at TNB — and I’m pretty sure the rest of the world has an inkling…..

      • Anon says:

        Robin, you have given me a new goal. Someday, I will write and publish a work so I can finally get my mother-in-law to stop talking to me and leave me the hell alone. If it extends to my father-in-law, anticipate getting a cut of my future royalties in gratitude.

        Naked, we enter this world. Naked we should remain (weather permitting, of course). Congratulations – now enjoy it. Revel a little in the fact that you have more courage than many!

        • You know– you’ve made me stop and think. Perhaps my father-in-law isn’t speaking to me either — but then again– he rarely does — even on a good day!

          Good luck on your epic novel that will turn the people nearest and dearest away from you in droves — hope it all turns out just the way you planned!

        • Anon says:

          Thank you for your encouragement, though I’m targeting the “further and damned annoying” more than the “near and dear”… this time.

      • Greg Olear says:

        I don’t think I’m quite at that level, alas, which is too bad, because I do so love burnt offerings, but I will say this: I cracked the 500 barrier today. Quietly, like Clooney got his 10 million miles over Dubuque in Up in the Air.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Congratulation on 500. I knew it would happen eventually.

          How’d you like Up in the Air?

        • Greg Olear says:

          Thanks, man. You called it. And I don’t know how many of the 500 are yours, but there are plenty, so thanks.

          I loved Up in the Air. Watched it last night. My fave movie of the year now. Can’t stop thinking about it. May write a quickie Feed thingie about it just to dish about its virtues. Reitman’s best work by far. And thought of you while watching, as they get to Tulsa.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I’ll be curious to read your post. There are so many things to love about that film. They capture not only business traveling but the overall business environment so well. Anna Kendrick blew me out of the water with her role. The MBA grad with the perfectly mapped out life, her personality neatly kept in her conservative suits and that emotionless mask of a face she wore. The seminar they went to, where Young MC sang and chanted the name of the company, all the shitty same business casual attire and the lame partying of plain vanilla corporate types, the shameless hooking up with this marketeer or that middle manager…ah, it was fantastic. I could go on forever. I’m between that and Inglorious as my favorite movies of the year. Reitman is my new favorite director, I think. Glad you enjoyed it.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Young MC. Loved that. Loved that whole sequence — reminded me of the night out in Tokyo in Lost in Translation (which I flat-out love).

          Wrote you offline, so as not to spoil, but may gear up and post tomorrow.

          I agree. That and the Tarantino. The QT was more daring but uneven, but this is a flawless film.

      • Robin, alas, the mother-in-law thing was never very “resolved” in my case, since after she had shunned me for 5 months following the publication of my first novel, My Sister’s Continent, in 2006, we had to start speaking again because she was diagnosed with cancer, which totally trumped her having thrown a hissy fit because I wrote a “deviant” book . . . so there was really no issue of her ever having to say much to explain her own previous behavior; I just had to suck it up. (And yeah, your assumptions about what she objected to in my writing are right on target: my first novel dealt a lot with sexual abuse, S/M, and other things she found highly objectionable.)

        Sounds like we have a LOT to talk about in May when I come to NYC! I’ll be eager to know if your m-i-l is speaking to you by then!

        This time, my husband and I have not mentioned the publication of Slut Lullabies to anyone in his entire family . . . though obviously if they google me or anything it isn’t hard to find out. But our basic stance is that if we never mention it to them, they should think twice before mentioning it to us. I’ll let you know how that works!

        Can’t wait to have a drink in person!

  6. Love it. You expressed it all so well in this piece. Good luck on your bookstore streaking. 😉

  7. See above reply to Greg– bookstore visits make me anxious so I think Saratoga will be spared the streaking author for now– but with Spring around the corner– who knows what lurks in the minds of writers? 😉

  8. Well, if it would help with your “street cred” you can say you did the podcast I recorded while you were streaking. I mean, how will anybody really know? (controversy=marketing 101) 😉

  9. Richard Cox says:

    You’ve eloquently touched on something that most everyone who posts here can relate to in some way or another. Whether it’s writing about incendiary topics, using foul language, or revealing your deepest darkest secrets for the world to see, it can be nerve wracking.

    My family is from mostly rural areas, and certainly conservative, and I received letters and comments about the use of “foul” language in my first novel. In the second, where I wrote some fairly graphic sex scenes, I think I appalled some family members enough that they just chose not to address it at all. But I do have to say I’ve received nothing but support from them with regard to writing as a profession…although I suppose a lot of my family thinks I’m the odd, foul writer among us. Ha.

    Do people recognize themselves in your work? Or think they do?

  10. I haven’t had anyone accuse me of writing about them… yet. I just think they are really bothered that the girl who married their son knows such things… which in turn means their son must know these things as well — and where do they go from there with that information? To your pastor?

    My husband’s family is very conservative — mine– not so much. I suppose in the end it will all balance out. Besides– there’s no going back now… unless they start a burn this book campaign at the family reunion.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Oh, right, Robin! Rodent’s mother-in-law ripped the cover off his first poetry pamphlet. She and her husband were Very Conservative, and the cover drawing was wonderfully sensual.

  11. Zara Potts says:

    You might be naked… but you are perfectly formed and beautiful.
    I’ll never crack the spine of another book without thinking of sex now… !

  12. Simon Smithson says:

    So much to read! So little time!

    Unless…

    Can’t wait to get my hands on it, Robin. I look forward to standing in the store, pointing and yelling ‘Hey everybody! Check out the nudity in Aisle 2!’

  13. Irene Zion says:

    Oh Robin,

    What a perfect metaphor!

    It must be terrifying to be in front of all those people you probably don’t even want to speak to and having them ask you questions you don’t even want to entertain.

    All I can say is:

    I read “The Summer We Fell Apart” and I loved it. Everyone should read it.
    It’s on kindle too, for those of you who aren’t luddites.
    (Oops, I better not get THAT fight started!)

  14. Irene– after reading some of the very brave pieces you write here on TNB, publishing TSWFA and my subsequent feelings have exposure seem small in comparison.

    And I am so thrilled you loved the book. Somehow coming from my TNB pals it means just that much more….
    ~ robin

  15. Irene Zion says:

    Robin,

    I may buy a book,
    but I don’t finish a book that I don’t really enjoy reading by half-way through.
    I know I’m probably missing stuff by being this way, but I only have so much time in my life.
    I finished your book.
    ‘Nuff said.

  16. Judy Prince says:

    Robin, I agree with Gina—I absolutely love this post! It was like I wasn’t even reading, but rather breathing in every sentence, every shift in your reactions, every wavering emotion, every doubt, every upswing. Writers are weird…..and…..weirder. Glad you chose this topic and nailed it!

    • Thanks so much– I really wasn’t so sure after I hit publish ( trigger finger)! I know so many people who toil away hoping one day to see their dreams realized and a book published. I had hoped it didn’t sound too much like sour grapes– like I wasn’t a bazillion times grateful that the publishing goddess shone her light on me. It’s just such a weird head space, you know? It’s really about dreams coming true and maybe not really knowing the enormity of what you wished for… I’m happy that translated to you!

      • Judy Prince says:

        So totally normal, natural and understandable that you worried about your situation and story sounding like sour grapes, Robin.

        It all came across as fresh and excited and confused and scared—and YOU. Amazing that a writer works, pushes ahead, waits, keeps working…..and then feels bad that they might seem not to like their new nymity (seemed like a good word to coin here). Writers and other artists must all be like that. grin. Sometimes when they are (and I am), I imagine them (and me) being obnoxiously arrogant like GB Shaw was in his writing about himself and his plays. I LOVE THAT!!! I suspect, and have read, that his self-started, self-nurtured public self was little like him, actually. He publicly stated that if it weren’t that he just *had* to have a happy ending to his plays, he would’ve been thought as great as Shaksper. hee ha. Aside from Russian writers, I love the Irish the best [always assuming, of course, that Shaksper is unapproachably THE BEST!].

        Now go out somewhere, Robin, in real life with real people—-and BRAG! Maybe you could practice on little kids somewhere because they are SO unimpressed. This could be another article on what it’s like to be nymitous. Do it Do it Do it!

  17. Quenby Moone says:

    This is such a poignant post for me right now! I can’t believe how much you’ve managed to pinpoint my ambivalence about writing. I feel naked when I write for me alone; now that I have you TNBer’s, I feel even more raw but embraced. And then I think about going the extra mile, looking for the wider audience and I quail.

    It’s a dangerous endeavor this thing. It’s probably the bravest, most courageous thing anyone who is an honest writer can do: publish and suffer the slings and arrows of popular culture, where every single person with an internet connection can love you or hate you in equal measure.

    Gives me the fear. But wow. Really amazingly brave of you. I feel your confusion and understand.

    • Quenby– your posts are always breathtakingly honest– you’ve made me laugh, shiver and cry — I do think TNB is a nice safe place to open your mouth. Actually I would say TNB has been a safe haven even though it’s literally an ever changing living breathing internet thing.

      Art of any kind is dangerous when you open your true creative self to total strangers. I’m glad I captured that here for you–

      And just so you know– when you venture out there– I’ll be one of the writers on your side;-)

    • Judy Prince says:

      Beautifully expressed, QB, and your words totally resonate.

      Your words, next, underscore the “newest” and most important dimension, which is internet-ness: “It’s probably the bravest, most courageous thing anyone who is an honest writer can do: publish and suffer the slings and arrows of popular culture, where every single person with an internet connection can love you or hate you in equal measure.”

      TNB is itself the humane, creation-encouraging and creation-building action that will become emblematic of The New Net. Count on it, QB.

      I’m thrilled to join you and Robin and all the commenters and contributors on this New Net—a new Noah’s Ark.

  18. AXS says:

    I’m dying to read your book, Robin. Thank you in advance for writing it.

    AXS

  19. I’ve never had anyone thank me in advance– I feel quite honored. Truly.

  20. Tawni says:

    I’m reading your book right now. I’m 85 pages in and absolutely loving it. You look great naked, Robin. (:

  21. Awww Tawni– you know just the right things to say to woo a naked writer……

  22. Marni Grossman says:

    Robin- I’ve seen your book everywhere and, every time I see it, I get excited about it all over again. Naked suits you.

  23. Of all the things I obsessed over before the book came out– being naked wasn’t one of them. I’m slowly getting used to showing this much skin.

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