We write to expose the unexposed. – Anne Lamott
You know that feeling you get when you’re convinced you’ve forgotten something really important? It’s a persistent dread that haunts you day and night, but you can’t quite put your finger on the source of the worry. “I’m forgetting something. But what?!” It’s like a phantom itch on your subconscious.
Last year, as I was printing the first draft of my book to give to 15 test readers, I couldn’t shake the incessant worry of having forgotten something major. I felt as though I was about to expose a supremely humiliating secret to my readers, such as a self-portrait of me draped in animal skin, stark naked, spread-eagle.
It was an irrational fear. How could a picture like this find its way into the pages of my manuscript? While Apple’s drop/drag system does make this surprisingly simple, I don’t own an animal skin rug …
Still, the fear kept nagging: You’re about to make an idiot of yourself!
I flicked through the printed pages of my manuscript, hoping to locate this Very Embarrassing Secret that I’d possibly included by mistake. If I looked through it enough times, I hoped a naked picture would flutter to the floor and I could discard the embarrassing evidence before handing the pages over to readers.
On a subconscious level, sharing my manuscript felt as disconcerting as exposing my nude body to a group of strangers. Writing is the act of publicly undressing your intellect. It’s standing before readers and inviting critique as they cast their judgmental eyes on your intimate thoughts and your private flaws. There’s no way to avoid the vulnerability that comes with this.
Now, as my book is about to launch, my fear of indecent exposure is worse than ever. I’m tempted to cancel printing and read over my book for the 678th time, hoping that I’ll finally locate that butt-naked picture hiding somewhere in the pages. If I can’t find it, perhaps I can cancel this whole book launch gig and run away to Mexico to live incognito for the rest of my days.
But that would make me a coward.
And while I’m admittedly fearful, I also profess to be an adventurer, so that means I have to close my eyes, take a deep breath, peel of my clothes, and start streaking.
(For all you perverts who have ended up here with your crazy Google search terms, zip up your pants—I’m talking figuratively.)
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