My Inner Scardy Cat

It’s Wednesday, and Sir Walter is up to his usual tricks at Jane Started It! (my other blog).

This week he’s giving advice on how to silence a bashful writer, one who has dared to bring up (at a party) the fact that she is, in fact, a published author. Sir Walter offers My Dear Vulgarian Miss a choice of cringe-worthy responses. Since the source for Sir Walter is, of course, myself, I thought up a list of horrible things. They’re comically bad, but still, you get to listen to my Inner Scardy Cat speak.

• Outright surprise: “You are published? Really. How … nice.”
• The bright smile: “Ooo goodie! Is your book about sex?” Say this loudly.
• Honest interest: “So, which famous author’s books do yours resemble?”
• 4G validation: “Are you on the NY Times Bestseller List? Here, I’ll check.”
• Curiosity: “Is your book an exposé? A shocking tell-all? Am I in it?”
• Disdain: “I read only the classics. And literary fiction, you understand.”
• The awkward silence, then a change of topic: “So, do you like hobbies?”

Here’s the thing. ONLY ONCE has someone said one of these to me.

The rest are phantoms, imaginary words that I will likely never hear!

So why do I torture myself with what could happen? Perhaps I think that by dwelling on the worst, a real-life stinging comment won’t have power to wound?

It’s a nonsensical approach that keeps me scared of people when I have no reason to be.

The fear of man does indeed bring a snare.

And the one comment I did hear? Last October I was signing books at the national meeting of JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America), and a smartly-dressed older woman passed by my table. When she realized we were authors, she said, with unnecessary force, “I read only Jane Austen.”

What could I say? Nothing, because I suddenly recalled what some of the Austen fiction books are like–lame, sexualized, inaccurate. What could I do but smile? Because that lady had a point.

So much for being wounded! I have a lot to learn …

(Cat image courtesy of

2 thoughts on “My Inner Scardy Cat

  1. I remember her. Upon realising what we were selling, she suddenly looked as though she’d been transported from one of the meeting rooms of the Hilton Portland to the stockyards Anytown, USA. Miraculous facial transformation!


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