Friday, July 13, 2012

And then I woke up . . . and my clothes were still on, thank goodness!

You know that dream where you're with a large group of people and you realize you're naked? That's what getting a book published is like.  

This is part of an email I wrote to a friend, who had shared her thoughts with me after reading Reality Check:

Thanks for your kind comments. You read like a writer. I was hoping for that, actually. 

When I was in college I was a composition major for a time, and each week we attended a master class where our compositions were performed, followed immediately by critiques from the professors and other comp students. Since I'd already survived a lot of piano festivals, I figured I could handle the criticisms, although I knew it would be tougher. . .

So I figured I knew what I was in for while I waited for the book to come out. But I was honestly surprised by the emotional reaction I've had, now that it's on the shelves for general consumption. It's like that dream everyone has where you're in a room full of people and you realize you're naked. You're completely vulnerable, because everyone reads and writes to some extent and everyone judges. 

I know I judge what I read and what movies I watch, so fair's fair. And to be honest, people have been kind so far. I'm merely commenting on a strange and unexpected reaction I've had going through the process, one that's slightly (and surprisingly) unnerving.

I mean, imagine: people in that hypothetical dream could approach you and say, "Wow! You look great!" But they might just as easily say, "You look . . . mmm . . . okay for an old lady. Did you know you've got a big pimple on your back?" Or maybe they simply pretend they don't see you—and could that possibly be worse?

So what do you do when you have The I'm Naked in a Group of People Dream? Do you strut your stuff? Smile and act casual, as if nothing's the matter? Would you cower and run to the nearest exit? Try to wake up?

Naked or not, in it's own way, the experience of having a novel published is its own kind of "reality check." Just sayin'.