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stay calm and carry on

When I set out to write Therapeutic Misadventures, it was to capture the letters and journals I had lugged around with me for the past thirty years. I just wanted everything in a digital format, you know, in case of fire? I also wanted to honor a promise I made to my mother that someday I would put it all into a book.  She was a great fan of the author Doris Kearns Goodwin and her epic historical biographies. There is no comparison, but I think she would be pleased with my result.

In the beginning, my goal was nothing more than to capture it all for my daughters. As the work progressed and I read books like “Eat Pray Love,” I began to visualize my work as an actual book I could hold in my hand, put on a shelf, leave on the bedside table. I became immersed in the manufacturing aspect of how you “make” a book. Pouring over my favorite tomes, I studied where the chapter breaks happen and what fonts were used. I struggled with positioning of page numbers and alignment of text. It was all fascinating and I am pleased because all the choices were mine.

It never occurred to me that I would feel so emotionally naked when the story went out to the world. I didn’t leave anything out. I didn’t tone any emotions down from what I had written years ago when it was all happening. I left all the names, dates and places just as they were.

When someone comments they are reading it or they request a copy, my mind reviews different events in the story and superimposes what that person might think of me when they read it.  This all based loosely on my impression of the reader and our relationship. Will they judge me for my indiscretions? Will they be bothered by some of the violence? Will they see a part of me I have kept hidden?

The second group I worry about are people I am not particularly fond of. Yes, we all have a few and though I wouldn’t go as far as calling them enemies, they are folks I have no wish to share my deepest secrets with. No hope for it, if they want to read it and judge me harshly, I will hold my head just a little higher knowing I have told my truth.

Strangers are so much easier to deal with. We have no foundation; I am building a relationship on bare ground with them. Whatever our relationship becomes,  post-reading will depend on synergy with my story. I expect to meet a few kindred spirits and many critics.

I was taught when doing public speaking, to pick one or two people from the audience, look them in the eyes and address them directly, then scan the group and imagine everyone else naked. I pretend we share an inside joke. Feeling like the naked person before my friends is a tough turn of events for me and one I have worked through.

4 comments on “Naked in Public

  1. alinekaplan says:

    When my first novel was published my boss read it and then commented that now he understood me a lot better. That was kind of scary.

    1. Good Grief Aline! So glad I don’t have a boss. Hadn’t thought of that.

  2. Touring NH says:

    I’m over half finished reading it (loving it!) and I think it takes a lot of courage to be honest. I think once you become honest with yourself, you can be honest with others. EVERYTHING that happens to us in our life and every decision we make, good or bad, makes us the people we become. And you Martha are an awesome person…anyone who judges hasn’t looked in their own closet!

    1. Thanks Laura. I do believe everything prior to now had a purpose and even what we are all going through now has a purpose later. So glad you are enjoying it!

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