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 …

Maggie Gyllenhaal

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.

Naked Cowboy

(For all you perverts who have ended up here with your crazy Google search terms, zip up your pants—I’m talking figuratively.)

If you’d like to know when my naked pictures book is available, follow me on Facebook

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37 Response Comments

  • Katie  August 30, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Plus, there’s always the fear that if they don’t like your naked photo and/or book, it means they don’t like you on some level. As though you’ve failed. It’s quite entirely horrifying in many ways.

    Good luck with your manuscript! I hope you received helpful and positive feedback from it.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 8:16 am

      Yes, it feels very personal! Especially when it’s a memoir.

      I got great feedback from my readers. It was a very valuable exercise to have people review the first draft. It took me a year to rework it 🙂

  • Tatiana  August 30, 2011 at 6:52 am

    I’ve never really felt this way about creative fiction before. But in the past, I’ve never really written from my core – as I would call it. It has some similarities to me but contained nothing controversial or insightful to my being. I mostly feel “naked” when I’m blogging – exposing myself intellectually. Having my ideas openly critiqued by people I don’t know and will probably never meet.

    But, I recently had a short story accepted into an anthology and was surprised at how uncomfortable I was about reading the editor’s critiques. But – everything ended up working out. So I guess it’s good practice?

    I find it so fascinating how art requires that you practically bare your soul to people, be it cinema to novel writing or music. And I think ultimately, as a culture, the art that is the most transparent lives forever.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 8:20 am

      That’s great that you got your work into an anthology!

      For me, early critique was vital. I got a lot of feedback from my readers, and I was okay with hearing it all, even the bad stuff. However, reading impersonal reviews from people will be another thing entirely (if I should be so lucky to get reviews!).

      ‘The art that is the most transparent lives forever.’ That’s really nice. I often think about how one day I’ll be dead and 6 feet under, so does exposing myself really matter anyway? Not really.

  • Charley @Secret_Water  August 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I try not to think about it too much. In fact you’ve just reminded me! Sometimes I forget that my blog is on the world wide web but at least I can go back and do minor edits. Or if I had a serious chicken out I could take a post down. But a book. That requires real courage. Be brave! I look forward to its launch!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 8:20 am

      Thanks Charley! I can’t wait to share it with you.

  • Sasha  August 30, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I so hear you! The process of writing can be so deep and as you delve through your thoughts and experiences it’s easy to accidentally slip out something that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t dare expose publicly! In someways that’s what I love about writing, it forces me to expose myself (without getting arrested). I can then look at my story, my inner most thoughts from the outside and see a whole new perspective, see the beautiful nakedness that everyone else sees and appreciates!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

      You’re right.

      Writing can be very cathartic.

  • Sally  August 30, 2011 at 8:00 am

    To be honest, I think I get more nervous about writing about other people than I do about writing about myself. I’m perfectly fine with making myself look like a fool (yes, I totally need therapy for this). But I worry when I write things about other people that they will take it the wrong way or be insulted (even though I always look like the bigger fool in the end… usually because I am) or contradict me and say, “That’s not how it went” (and they probably will have a point as my memory sucks). I’d be curious to know if anyone you wrote about in the book read your manuscript yet? Did you feel antsy at all about how you portrayed them?

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Yep, writing about other people is hard. So much of how we view other people is our own experience / opinion, and I didn’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings with my POV. At the same time, I needed to tell an honest and complete story, and I couldn’t tiptoe around sensitive issues. Early on, I ruffled some feathers by discussing other people’s history, and I felt very scared to share the MS with these people. The story I portrayed dug up some deep family issues (not my family), but after a big confrontation, it turned out fine. Ultimately, airing the issues was a good thing: it bridged a communication gap and heeled some old wounds. As for the people who would be insulted by my not-so-pretty portrayal, I’ve changed their names!

  • Karen  August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

    “You write best when you are most utterly yourself. You bring, somehow, everything you are to the page. … [your] undivided, unregenerate, original and naked self.” Mark Tredinnick
    You’re freaking out because you’ve done an awesome job. Let go of the fears and just enjoy. Be brave. xx

  • Sarah  August 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I always get the feeling that I am forgetting something.

    So, to make myself feel better, I convince myself of something that I forgot (even if it didn’t need to be remembered in the first place). “Sarah, you forgot to high-five that stranger walking down the street. It’s okay though, there’s always next time.”

    Maybe something like that might help? Maybe you should just convince yourself that you forgot to bring your imaginary animal skin rug to the dry-cleaners?

    Whatever you do, congratulations! And good luck with the streaking!

    • Torre DeRoche  August 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Ha ha. I love it. Because I totally DID forget to bring my imaginary animal skin rug to the dry cleaners, and judging from the picture, it could really use a good clean.

      Your technique is a way to trick your brain into scratching that imaginary itch. Brilliant.

  • liv  August 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Oh gosh, I think you nailed it on the head. You feel so vulnerable when you write something personal. Putting yourself out to be judged.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      In stirrups, beneath fluorescent lighting, under a microscope …

  • Abigail Rogers  August 30, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Fantastic analogy! That’s something I love about blogging–it makes you vulnerable, and that’s something we all need now and then.

  • Tania Elfersy  August 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I can so relate to this! I even read my book backwards to make that I wasn’t gliding over some horrible mistake. BUT NO! You don’t need to read your book backwards! After all, my book has a relatively low word count. 15 test readers sounds like a great plan.

    • Torre DeRoche  August 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Wow—I haven’t tried that yet. Dociousaliexpilisticfragicalirupus! (You’ve seen Mary Poppins, right?)

  • Denise  August 31, 2011 at 5:32 am

    so looking forward to reading the book. when is it going to be published?

    • Torre DeRoche  August 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Thanks Denise. It’s days away, as long as nothing goes wrong!

  • Avril  September 1, 2011 at 6:44 am

    I love your note to the perverts.

    On a serious note, I envy someone like you (in a good way) who can express so well writing. Some days, there’s much to say in my head and heart, but not able to do so in written words. It’s so frustrating.

    Ever since I started blogging, I admire others writers like yourself. It is such a gift. Good for you that you’ve gotten this far and you book is about to launch. Congrats on that and here’s to many more successes with your gift.

    Cheers from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    • Torre DeRoche  September 1, 2011 at 7:15 am

      Hi Avril, thanks for your kind words. I think that frustration you’re feeling is a vital attribute for a writer: it means your desire to express yourself is strong. That’s a gift. With patience and dedication, you’ll find a way to gather words from your head and your heart and get them onto the page. Good luck!

  • Prime  September 1, 2011 at 9:16 am

    “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.” – this for me is the best description of the writing profession (or is it a vocation?). There are so many things to learn about a person by simply reading what she has written. It’s a clue to her thought process, her values, her personality.

    But anyway, kudos to your new book! (is it available in Kindle?) and enjoy your book tour!

  • Samantha Vérant  September 3, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Oh happy day! I’m really looking forward to your debut! And you are so right. It’s especially hard with a memoir because things are, oh, about 1,000,000 times more personal. Uh, let’s go streaking…

    • Torre DeRoche  September 6, 2011 at 3:46 am

      Ha ha. Totally. If people don’t like the book, they literally don’t like YOU. Or, at least, your portrayal of yourself.

  • Mikeachim  September 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I came for the boobies, I stayed for the writing.

    And if your writing isn’t making you squirm, if they thought of Total Strangers seeing it isn’t making your breath do funny things, then there’s something wrong somewhere. Good writing is vulnerability. Total vulnerability. It’s much worse than being naked – that’s just surface nakedness. Writing is *total transparency*.

    I’m not helping, am I?

    But I don’t feel I should be trying, frankly. Because your book is going to be awesome, and that’s just a fact. Yep.

    • Torre DeRoche  September 6, 2011 at 3:45 am

      You’re absolutely right: it’s total transparency. That’s what makes it thrilling, though. Thanks so much for your kind words! You put a big smile on my face.

  • Audrey  September 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I cannot wait to read it!!!! Plus you’ve got the whole travel community supporting you 😀 What an exciting step!!

  • Skip  September 20, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Well, Torre, all I can say is you look sizziling hot naked! If you’ve got it flaunt it! Seriously, you have best seller on your hands. Congratulations!

  • Lucinda  January 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Love your book,Love your blogs, Love everything you write Thank You I too am basically a fearful adventurer So I can identify with everything you write about Your book has made me less fearful and more willing to push on with my goals In other words You have set me free!


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