Keeping Calm Under the Spotlight


So Many Questions

I haven’t updated my blog in a while and I think I owe you an explanation of what is going on right now. I feel really bad complaining about this but, you know, that’s what blogs are for, right? A mass dumping of petty complaints onto faceless strangers?

Talk about first world problems. I may as well tell you that my chef overcooked the lobster and burned the dipping butter. My silk stockings got snagged on the door jam of the Rolls-Royce. My chauffer asked to have Christmas off, and my oiled, muscly pool-boy, Hans, developed carpal tunnel syndrome from—

Okay, I’m getting carried away with this. Point is, you should probably run out and buy some drops to lubricate your eyes so they don’t get cramped while they’re rolling around at me and this epic story of woe I’m about to tell you…

After five months of promoting my book, I have burnout. Publicity fatigue. The Malaise of the Memoirist. A bad case of Please-Don’t-Make-Me-Tell-My-Story-Again-itis. And it’s hard, people. It is hard. I will tell you what happened, but first: Peel me another grape, won’t you? Thanks. Here’s how it unfolded:

I wrote a memoir. Yay!

I sold my memoir. Yay!

I launched my memoir three times in three regions around the world. Yay! Yay! Yay!

I was invited to speak about my story and myself for publicity purposes. Yay!

I was invited to speak again. Yay!

I was interviewed. Wow, me? Again? Oh, yay!

I was interviewed again. I’m on fire! This is great! 

And again. Oh, okay, well… sure.

And again. Are you sure you’re not getting sick of me yet?

And again. I’m getting a little sick of myself, but this is for publicity, so…

And again. Really? Again? How much longer will this—

And again. You really want to do this again?

And again. Really, people, really? Can’t I just—

And again. Sleep for a little while, so I can—

And again. Maybe get some energy back to—

And again. Okay, guys, please, can’t we just talk about something else, like global warming or, I dunno, the holocaust?

And again. LOL Cats? I can talk LOL Cats for days.

And again. We can talk about Honey Boo-Boo Child? 

And again. We’re talking so much about me, but I want to know about you! Tell me about your father. What was he like?   

And again. My lips feel numb. Am I making sense anymore? Is this English I’m speaking, or just a series of wet, guttural noises? 

And again. I feel like I’m saying ‘Orange, orange, orange, orange, orange, orange’ over and over again, and it now has no meaning whatsoever. ‘Orange.’ Ha ha. ‘Orange.’ Means nothing. 

And again. How do the famous people cope with this?

And again. How much is a gram of cocaine, exactly?

And again. A sniff here, a sniff there does not an addict make, right?

And again. Okay, fine, we won’t go down that snowy path. Coffee. I’ll stick to coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

And again. HimynameisTorreandmybookisatravelmemoiraboutthetimeI…

And again. Okay, I want to not exist for a little while, please. I want to become those little tiny dust particles that dance in sunbeams. Ah, to be dust! How relaxing! ‘Dust, dust, dust, dust, dust, dust.’ Listen to that word. It’s absurd! It makes no sense! ‘Sense, sense, sense, sense, sense, sense.’ Listen! It means nothing! ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing…’

And again. Everything is meaningless! We are all going to die! Hahaha! We are ALL going to DIE!

And so on and so on, all the way down into the depths of an existential black hole. The God of Altruism and Charitable Causes then knocks at my door and he speaketh these words to me:

*Thunder cracks, clouds part*

So you want to talk about your own life story in book-length detail, eh? Write your mem-whaaa? Make yourself the lead character in a story? ‘Torre’ as the protagonist of a lighthearted, romantic adventure? You do realize that polar bears are dying, right? Tornadoes, earthquakes, hunger, injustice… But oh no! You had to go and tell a story about your one, insignificant human life. You shall be punished! I am condemning you to purgatory and ALL you will EVER talk about is YOURSELF and your OWN life! You will be forcibly self-absorbed forever! Bwah-ha-ha! Now tell us again: Did you always want to be a writer? What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing? Where do you think your fears stemmed from? What is your preferred breakfast cereal? ANSWER THE QUESTIONS, DEROCHE!

If I had narcissistic personality disorder, the last five months would’ve been an orgasmic time in my life. But I’m not the kind of person who breaks out into jazz fingers and high kicks under the limelight. I survive the limelight in the way that a cockroach gets by when you uncover its hiding spot beneath an old paint tin.

Keep Calm and Jazz Hands

My idea of heaven is a place that extroverts commonly describe as “No life.” Saturday night, a block of chocolate, a movie, the all-encompassing silence of perfect loneliness… Ahh. Now we’re talking. Or, even better: Saturday nights, Jeff Buckley singing softly in the background, dimmed lights, an aromatic candle, and my fingers delicately stroking my laptop keyboard, massaging out a particularly difficult sentence. Yeah, baby. Writers are sexy like that. All words and no play.

So I’ve had to take a short break from it all. That’s why I haven’t blogged, or answered your phone call, or replied to your email, or paid your overdue bill, or come to your funeral. Instead, I’m curled up in fetal position under the covers, eating giant dill pickles straight from the jar while watching Portlandia—seasons one and two—on repeat.

I do that for as long as I can until my mother calls, concerned about why I haven’t been to visit my terminally ill father in the hospital for days. She asks: “How are you?”

“Jesus, Mum, what’s with all the questions? Can’t I just live? You want to know about me? How I am? Me? I am meaningless! You are meaningless! We are dust! Dust, dust, dust, dust. See? Means nothing!”

And then she hangs up and drives over with a dish of tuna casserole for my dinner, and I am fed and it is all going to be okay. She leaves and I find the jar of pickles in the fridge, and I take my iPad to bed and—

Oh, wow, look at that. An email from Oprah, requesting an interview. Hmm. Maybe I should email her back? But another interview? Really? Do I really have to? Nah. Psht. Screw Oprah, man, I have dill pickles and Portlandia now. 

‘Oprah, Oprah, Oprah, Oprah, orange, orange, orange, orange, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing…’

But don’t worry. I’m totally fine. Handling it all like a pro.

I swear.

Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.

Leave a Comment

  • Libby July 17, 2013, 3:31 pm

    YOU GOT THIS! We’re all cheering you on Torre, just as we were through the sea sickness and through the ocean when the engine failed and when you decided to go back home. You’re human. And you need a break–am glad you are taking one for yourself. Enjoy it. Embrace it.

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:35 am

      Thanks Libby. Damn my humanness, always getting in the way of my grandiose plans!

  • Dina Santorelli July 17, 2013, 3:35 pm

    All words and no play. Ha! How much do I love this post? Sorry, didn’t mean to ask you a question… 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:36 am

      Let me go and fetch a pickle. Then I can address your question. 😉

  • Helen July 17, 2013, 3:41 pm

    Hi Torre,

    What you are going through is completely understandable! Sounds like an emotional rollercoaster. You have so much going on I don’t know what person would be able to ‘just deal with it’ all.

    I remember when I first told people I was off on an adventure. I loevd telling people about it at first. Then it became all anyone ever asked me about for months. Before long, I wasn’t quite sure if I knew how to talk about anything else. I was almost bored of my trip before I went!

    You’re doing great and I for one have loved reading your interviews and about you’re book (which I am still reading by the way and very much enjoying when I sporadically find time to read).

    I don’t have any wise words to offer… but I think what you have achieved is amazing and I (and I’m sure everyone else) will understand if you take some time out for yourself. Have a rest, spend time with the family. The world can wait! x

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:38 am

      Glad to know you’re reading my interviews! Thank you for your support. xo

  • Cat of Sunshine and Siestas July 17, 2013, 4:55 pm

    I’m currently on the part where you and Ivan meet his parents in the fancy resort. Seems like you’ve come a long way from then so slowdown and ENJOY! We can wait, and we will!

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:38 am

      Oh yes, that was a long time ago now! Thanks, Cat.

  • Leon Falde July 17, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Fame can really suck!!! I’m glad I’m not famous. I suppose you got your new adventure but it’s probably about time to start considering the next one. Hang in there.

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:40 am

      Planning a new adventure might be just what I need. Thanks, Leon.

  • tatiana July 17, 2013, 5:57 pm

    Well, I’m glad everything is going okay!!

    And for marathoning purposes, I recommend SUPERNATURAL and THE WALKING DEAD. Which is supposed to be on Netflix. That’s all the TV I watch so… that’s all I got! Oh, and I like SAY YES TO THE DRESS. THE DRAMA!!

    Have fun and eat lots of snacks for me!!

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:42 am

      You can’t get Netflix in Australia, which is an outrage! 🙂 But that’s okay—I can watch Portlandia and Girls on repeat until the day I die.

  • Kim July 17, 2013, 7:06 pm

    Did you really get an email from Oprah requesting an interview?!??! RESPOND TO THAT ONE!

    • Erica July 17, 2013, 7:12 pm

      I’m curious about that one too.

    • Lpeg July 17, 2013, 7:15 pm


    • Libby July 17, 2013, 7:24 pm

      Agreed…Please respond to that one.

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 5:54 am

      If I really did get an email from Oprah, this post would read much differently. It would be an all-caps, incoherent screaming match of letters and profanities that would scroll down the browser for days.

      • Libby July 26, 2013, 2:50 am

        Oprah’s missing out. The call will come soon.

      • janet August 7, 2013, 2:59 am

        OPRAH WILL HAPPEN NOW, JUST SO YOU KNOW!!! or, it should anyway 😉

  • Lauren July 17, 2013, 7:32 pm

    I had my first radio interview a few days ago. It was only 15 minutes long and I was asked the easy questions I get asked over email every single day. And yet it still took me about five hours of asking myself fake questions and half a bottle of wine before I finally felt prepared. It went well and I was happy and then I immediately napped for six hours and was unable to function for the rest of the day. I can only imagine how much I would want to stab myself if I had to do that over and over and over and over…

    Did Dave tell you I scored 91% on the introvert scale last night?

    Also, Portland’s great. You should like, totally live here.

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 6:00 am

      Oh, Lauren, you poor thing. I’m guessing the tiredness was from that half-bottle of wine.

      I think I’m about the same on the introvert scale. Ridiculously introverted. By the way, my dictionary describes the word ‘introvert’ as meaning: “a shy, reticent, and typically self-centered person.” There you go, you selfish bitch.

  • Vincent July 17, 2013, 7:38 pm

    Just found you through Copyblogger’s case study featuring you! It’s interesting to see the spotlight from your perspective. Very similar to an article I read by Mark Manson earlier this week called “The Dark Side of the Digital Nomad” which explored the negative sides to living life as a successful entrepreneur. I’ve always suspected that living life under such success could burn you out, but having it told the way you did makes it seem scary! Congratulations on all your successes and I hope you get to a comfortable level. 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 6:03 am

      Sorry to make it seem scary! Under normal circumstances, I don’t think it would be this hard. I have a lot of other external stresses going on, like my dad being unwell and all that goes with that, so it’s kind of hard to be all me-me-me at this particular time.

      Loved the Mark Manson piece. Not enough people tell the truth, particularly online.

  • Patricia Sands July 18, 2013, 2:27 am

    Torre, Torre, Torre – keep eating the pickles and take a break. The interviews can wait! You know you are living the dream of many of us and we want you to be happy. I’m sorry to hear your dad is struggling again and perhaps that’s not helping the burnout! I believe you will always do the right thing and I’m sure you are spending every minute you can with him. Now have another pickle, breathe in, breathe out. This too shall pass. *sending hugs … okay, okay, I’ll just wave instead …*

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 6:05 am

      Thank you, Patricia. Perhaps my next book will be ‘Zen and the Art of Pickles: Gherkin Therapy for Challenging Life Circumstances.’ Eh? Eh? You like? You buy?

  • Carmel July 18, 2013, 3:39 am

    Just be sure not to start watching Battlestar Galactica or we might never hear from you again.

  • sarah July 18, 2013, 3:43 am

    Eeer, yeah. I can’t imagine. That would be my personal hell for sure. I have to be sent away once a year to a meditation retreat for 10 days, no talking the entire time and PLENTY of floating dust particle watching. It was bliss. I highly recommend doing a Vipassana retreat.

    You haven’t lost your humour, so that’s a good sign.


  • Hannah July 18, 2013, 7:55 am

    Thank you for being so open and honest about this Torre. It makes such perfect sense that you would be struggling right now, and it is so important to take time for yourself amongst all this chaos. You’ve certainly earned it! Go eat your pickles, spend time with your dad and the rest of your family, and when you’re ready, we’ll all be right here. And if you need some more great press-avoiding TV, I can recommend Mad Men and Breaking Bad 😉 Oh, and maybe Oprah…

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 6:10 am

      Thanks, Hannah. I’ve already gobbled down Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Lately I’ve been watching Ellen clips of YouTube-famous children performing bad renditions of their talents with looks of utter shock and confusion in their eyes. I feel for them.

  • Tagy July 18, 2013, 8:24 pm

    He’ll who needs fame – it sounds terrible. But thanks for a fantastic book. What a wonderful adventure. I loved every minute of it and was sad when I finished it. Best of luck to you.

  • Michael Rochelle July 18, 2013, 9:10 pm

    Although I’ve never been in that predicament, I could see how that would be a challenge. Hopefully, it gets better when you have more books so you can have more to talk about. This is why every time I see someone on a talk or radio show and I hear them asked an inevitable question that I’ve heard them asked elsewhere, I wonder how many times they’ve been asked that question that week? month? year? decade?

    Imagine how Chris Brown feels. He’ll be 50 and still be asked about the Rihanna incident. Oh wait, did I just go there? LOL

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 9:07 am

      Yes, or imagine being a band that has to play the same song for an entire career. At least authors get left alone after the initial buzz!

  • Kathleen July 19, 2013, 1:00 pm

    Take the time….to be with your Dad, veg out in bed, eat pickles and your Mom’s cooking…because truthfully, no matter what people say, people will still be here to read your words when you are ready. Especially when they are entertaining and funny and just damn good, like this post.

    Hang in there! (And answer the Oprah question…..pllleeeeaaassseee!)

  • Millie Noe July 19, 2013, 5:07 pm

    Hey Torre, this reminds me of the days in your book when you were sea sick and vomitting all the time. You’ll make it. Just keep watching for that precious land. Your feet will be back on solid ground at some point. And, I would like to thank you for making me feel way better that my work will never be published.

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 9:10 am

      Never say never, Millie! And thanks for the words. I will keep in mind the image of my feet finding dry, beautiful land ahead.

  • nicole July 19, 2013, 7:35 pm

    I kinda lol’d a bit with this post. You are one funny lady. =D

    There’s times I feel like going all burrito in my blankets and watching nothing but family guy (could probably use some of that right now). I don’t blame you for feeling this way at all. =)

    • Torre DeRoche July 25, 2013, 9:11 am

      Going all burrito in your blankets! Not only is that phrase hilarious, it also makes me hungry. Mmmmm. Burrito.

  • Debbs L Flint July 19, 2013, 11:41 pm

    Genius blog. Bloody genius.

  • Sarah Somewhere July 20, 2013, 4:02 am

    I get overwhelmed by far less so totally get your predicament. Sorry about your Dad, that is so tough. What a bitter sweet time in your life. Hugs x

  • Lauren July 24, 2013, 3:46 pm

    “Or, even better: Saturday nights, Jeff Buckley singing softly in the background, dimmed lights, an aromatic candle, and my fingers delicately stroking my laptop keyboard, massaging out a particularly difficult sentence. Yeah, baby. Writers are sexy like that. All words and no play.”


  • Glenys Mayer July 25, 2013, 8:29 am

    So very funny Torre. Dare I say, LOL (it deserves something better than a LOL).
    I was given your book to take on holidays by a friend and I so related to you and your story, as did my husband Steve (ie. he to Ivan, me to you). The chance meeting, the love, the adventure, the neurosis, even the boat, though that came thirty years down the track. I’m passing it on to my kids now, and a lady at work. (word of mouth at work for you). Putting your story down on paper (and the talent that reflects) is brave and clever and makes me very jealous! No, I mean inspired (and a bit jealous!). Congratulations.
    p.s. I agree with those who say take a break from the interviews. Nothing so desirable as that which is somewhat unattainable.

    • Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa July 26, 2013, 10:25 pm

      Hi Torre,
      I somehow discovered your site and went for a bit of a nose into your book on Amazon. I only had to read the first paragraph before I hit the BUY, BUY, BUY button.
      The book has just arrived, I have read the first four chapters and I already adore it.
      I can’t wait to read some more about you, your travels and your gorgeous man.

      Take care and I hope you have recovered from all that talk about you, you, you.

      Victoria – Straight outta London Town!

      PS – Did Oprah Come Calling??
      PPS – Who do you want to play you in the movie of your life? Be honest now 😉

  • pam grant July 30, 2013, 7:24 pm

    oh my gosh…who ever said success is what everyone should subscribe to has never found the comfort of a down comforter on a rainy, blustery day, a box of kleenex on the night stand while indulging in “An Affair to Remember”,” Jane Eyre” or “Sleepless in Seattle”…..hey…take all the time you need…your public ain’t goin nowhere…

  • Wanda St.Hilaire July 31, 2013, 4:54 am


    I suspect I have a deep fear of success for that very reason. The further I go down the rabbit hole, the more I can see myself veering off in the direction of a beach writing postcards instead of flogging books.

    Angels to your dad and rest, rest, rest to you.

  • TammyOnTheMove August 7, 2013, 9:10 am

    I got fed up when all of my friends kept asking me the same questions about my traveling and voluntary work when I visited them in Germany a few months ago and I had to tell the same story over and over again. But what you are going through sounds extreme. Just don’t stop eating those blocks of chocolate and you will be fine (assuming you are eating the whole block and not just bits at a time)!

  • Lisa August 7, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Torre, You need and deserve a LONG break to enjoy some personal time. I loved your book; so much in fact I read it a second time. Take care of yourself. We are all rooting for you.

  • Patti August 8, 2013, 2:30 pm


    I am loving your book!!!!!!! Started reading it while sailing and cruising around the North Channel, Lake Huron, Canada for 2 weeks…………….I can totally relate………I would read passages aloud to my husband while sailing, and he would say, “maybe you shouldn’t be reading that now” but I couldn’t put it down. It was our first sailing adventure too, and I laughed in parts, and realized the dangers as well watching for rocks and channel markers. Bilge not working is not good for sure, I would check ours regularly and pump using the manual bilge while in the cockpit. Take it easy and relax when you can.

  • Candice Moll August 13, 2013, 2:28 am

    You crack me up Torre. Really! Just know that in all your unwanted limelight, I’m sitting at home giggling at your blogs. x

  • Glenn August 16, 2013, 8:48 pm

    My cousin Larry got stuck in the fetal position, poor guy.

    May fame never strike me so.

    Wonderful book, my wife and I are leaving L.A. for the Marquesas probably in November in our 41′ Sea Wolf, I think your book has helped her. Thank you — no reply necessary, save your fingers.

  • Gary from Livefreedietravelling August 18, 2013, 7:54 am

    Torre…last simple question…what IS the meaning of life then?!

    Loved the book and glad you are back blogging … just love your outlook on life 🙂


  • Lindsay August 20, 2013, 8:30 pm

    Hi Torre, I fell in love with a man with brine in his veins. We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary last March. We’ve just bought our second boat – this time in the Mediterranean – our first was on Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef. This time, we want to spend more time on board and not just do charters….your story inspired me. And BTW, have been too busy writing (true crime not memoirs) to learn how to do these bow lines. You have inspired me to pick up a drill…..

    Lindsay Simpson

  • margarita September 10, 2013, 4:13 am

    I am happy for you! my colleague just showed your blogged and gurl you’re awesome!

    Your post made me exhausted! Like I felt for you. I would give some advice but gees I’ve no place to say anything 🙂

  • Rebecca November 9, 2013, 8:15 am

    Torre, just finished reading your book and freaking LOVED it! I’ve read a tonne of mindless, self-serving travel memoirs recently that bored me silly, but as soon as I started reading your book, I was hooked and devoured it in record time. Fantastically written. I’m happy I’m now on your blog and seeing the same witty, self-deprecating sense of humour – please keep it up!

    PS. Hope Melbourne’s awesome. I haven’t lived there for 2 1/2 years and have lately been missing my city.

  • Bee November 10, 2013, 3:21 pm

    Hey Torre, just wanted to tell you that I just read your book. In two days. I just couldn’t put it down!!!! I’m not a “reader”, I never read novels, or books of any kind really, but unfortunately I’ve just spent a week in hospital, bored to tears and needing something to occupy my mind, I’m halfway into my round-the-world trip (not by sailboat!) and i’m also feeling a bit of travel burnout. I read your book and it has totally cheered me up, reminded me why I am travelling the world, renewed my spirit and put a smile on my face when nothing else will. I just want to say a big Thank You to you…. and wish you good luck with your next adventure….another book please!!

  • Angie Williams November 16, 2013, 3:17 pm

    I really enjoyed your book, and glad to hear you and Ivan are still going strong!

  • Mary Kay November 29, 2013, 11:48 am

    Hi Torre,
    after I lost my job two months back, I went on the hardest hiking trip in Europe (GR-20), Corsica, which I didn’t finish because I got hurt. Not seriously, but seriously enough to get to my senses (“this is my holiday. I shouldn’t DIE”). There were a number of major and minor break downs involved and as they say, there is beauty in these. Reading your post, I was very touched and had to laugh on this grey Berlin day. Thank you for that. And as for new adventures: why not try some European hiking destination? Mallorca is absolutely stunning and Corsica is mind blowing…

  • Wesley January 14, 2014, 4:20 am

    I love this blog post.

  • Fanny March 11, 2014, 8:17 pm

    Hi Torre,
    I really don’t think you have anything to explain, just because you’ve been posting less than usual! You’re a fantastic author and I guess everyone here loves to read your posts, but no one is going to hold it against you if you go quiet for a while. And when you’re back, we’ll be twice as happy. So relax and get wel!