July 21, 2015 § 22 Comments


When I first laid bare my personal writing in workshops, I puked before and after each meeting. I’m not talking about exposing my nature poems or opinions on the current state of education—I’m talking about writing with a truth stake driven through its heart.

I puked before the meeting, because I had no idea how the other writers would respond, no idea if they’d appreciate, reject, ridicule or judge. I puked afterward, (even if the critique was good, maybe even more so) because in some weird way, I felt I’d betrayed self, stopped protecting self—I’d allowed the dangerous, naive part of me to dance naked in the streets, arms open, face lit with desire and possibility—I’d unlocked the door of the safe house, knowing she’d run out, knowing she’d get hurt.

And when I signed with an agent to sell my novel?—the story of disrupted identity and power imbalances that might cause people to speculate about who the main character really was, I puked for three days straight.

My therapist told me puking was to be expected. Apparently, I was tearing apart some pretty hard-ass wiring. Apparently, it wasn’t the dangerous, naive part of me dancing naked, it was inner warrior woman, and like pupae ripping from industrial strength thread and bursting through membrane, discomfort was inescapable.

“You’re creating a new person,” he’d say. “You’re acting as if you are worthy. That’s no small thing.” He’d pass me Kleenex, shake his head and say things like, “The dangerous part of you isn’t naked woman or warrior woman. The dangerous part of you is underground veiled woman.”

Okay, then.

He encouraged me to continue putting my voice out there—to say what I felt like saying, in the way I felt like saying it. To consider vulnerability as strength. To trust more. To say “fuck it” to anyone who thrived on tearing down, rather than firing up. To tell myself, “Your voice is beautiful.”

And so. With each new page of writing I exposed for review in groups, with each essay and social media post I didn’t delete, each time I said, “Fuck it,” and “Your voice is beautiful,” I felt less susceptible to harm. I began to taste, feel and smell the intoxication of a sturdier more resilient infrastructure. And as corny as it sounds, I felt different, in a sacred kind of way.

There are still plenty of days I worry about what people think, and my sentences crumple to dust and blow away before I can grab them and hide them under the bed. And there are nights I fail to believe I’m more than a story, rating or ‘like’, and lay awake in a hot sweat, cheeks wet with doubt and shame.

And yet!

I will never again underestimate the power of saying fuck it and your words are beautiful—because it feels like something wrong is slowly being righted.




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§ 22 Responses to Naked

  • misscocowebster says:

    It’s our most vulnerable writing that often ends up being the most relatable and universal. Keep sharing your beauty Anna. We love you for it.


  • Judy Duncan says:

    Oh dear. I admire your ability to write the truth, to write the hard stuff, to write what really matters. Be strong and keep saying “fuck it”! your friend JudyD


  • Karen Huguley says:

    Hey Anna – congrats on getting an agent for your novel – wonderful!  And I really enjoyed this posting.  It makes me feel like taking more chances, more and bigger.  Thanks.


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  • Karen Sullivan says:

    Hard truths and bleakness can bring their own terrible beauty. Your words matter because you reach so far inside for them that you bear the consequences. That’s more than most of us can say.


  • this is just a beautiful piece of writing and I can’t wait to share it with all of my writer friends who think they aren’t brave enough to do this, and yet forge forth again and again, with different but similar experiences to puking their guts up.


  • Charlotte Goldman says:

    Beautiful post, Anna. I feel the resonance in my bones. Congratulations on getting an agent..I look forward to reading your book..


    • annaquinn56 says:

      Thank you, Charlotte! I’m thrilled to have an agent, even though the waiting as he seeks an editor/publisher is kind of mentally taxing…but a good problem to have, right?


  • Maryann says:

    How this touches my heart, dear Anna. You’re always my model for deep courage. Thank you, thank you. I love you, my friend!


  • starroberts says:

    I love this post. I confess, being a Gemini, I have always thought of my dark twin as Fuck It Girl. She’s the one who swears at people in Seattle traffic and has a little fantasy about running down self absorbed Amazonians glued to their phone while sloooowly using the crosswalk. But I digress. Thanks to you, I realize now Fuck It Girl can be channeled for good, not evil. For owning my story and my voice. I don’t puke at workshops or readings, I cry, but maybe if I bring her with me she will kick my ass into being vulnerable in a less spineless way. You rock.


    • annaquinn56 says:

      Ha,Star! I love “I realize now Fuck it Girl can be channeled for good, not evil! Perfect. It was kind of an epiphany for me when I realized I could be vulnerable…and it didn’t change the truth that I could also be kick-ass…thanks for the read!


  • I have been returning to this piece all day, and returning to the peace it brings me. At times I wonder if I’ll ever be able to wrap my arms all the way around my own Fuck It Girl (thank you Star, for that wonderful image) and then I realize I need to let her wrap her long arms around me. I get down on myself for being so afraid to be vulnerable and then, and then, and then I realize I wrote my first poem two weeks ago and shared it with a group of published poets. And I did not die. Someday, of course, I will. But it will not be from allowing others to experience my words.


  • annaquinn56 says:

    Julie, your words are beautiful. I admire the chances you take as a writer and the experiences you challenge yourself to seize and make the most of…your courage is infectious…so thank YOU.


  • Rachelle says:

    I love this!


  • A truth stake through the heart of being vulnerable in words. The core of writing.


  • annaquinn56 says:

    Cheryl, yes…funny how drawing near that core can be so hard sometimes, but then you get there and things are essentially beautiful.


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