chronic pain/fibromyalgia · depression · fans · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · speaking · writing

Speaking Out

I’ve been astounded by the amount of fan mail I’ve received over my latest piece, “My Love/Hate Relationship with G-d.” It’s really been a wonderful experience this week to wake up every morning and find a new email from a fan. Keep it coming!

I’ve gotten so many virtual hugs from Jewesses also suffering from fibromyalgia or depression or racism or family drama. A few men have even signed onto the bandwagon to ask me about everything from shidduchim (loosely: matchmaking opportunities) to congratulating me on a great piece. Writing might not be very lucrative right now but with fans like this, I certainly get to enjoy other priceless rewards. (I even got some “hate” mail about other articles, which my husband thinks is good because it means I’m touching a nerve.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been surprised by how many people have emailed me telling me they look forward to hearing me speak this weekend at LimmudNY where my husband and I will be giving two separate presentations together on racism and conversion. (My husband and I balance each other out with our different teaching styles: he relies on Jewish sources while I introduce sources from Glamour magazine and anecdotes from every day life.) In fact, I’ve been getting many more emails about speaking at other venues as well. I’m up to about page 200 of my memoir but based on just the several articles I have under my belt now, it seems people think I’ve got interesting things to say.

And I do, I suppose. I think one of my greatest gifts (and weaknesses) is being able to say things that no one else wants to say. I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut and blend in safely, quietly into the background, no matter how much of my life I’ve spent wishing I could. And as a writer, I spend a great deal of time thinking about my experiences and what they say about issues like race, conversion, culture, religion, etc. Writing is the way I think about these things out loud in a larger forum. But just because I’m a “great writer” (fan’s words, not mine) doesn’t mean I’m the best speaker in the world (my husband is rolling his eyes over my “humility”). I hope people aren’t getting any ideas now. All these new opportunities have lead to fears that people will meet me in person and find me utterly disappointing. In the classroom as a teacher, it was easy to see and understand the audience I was trying to reach but in the local synagogue or college in front of countless nameless faces, it can be hard to gauge a crowd. Not that I’ve ever been very good at crowd control, mind you. Okay, I was, but I’m much better with teenagers than I am with adults.

Am I whining about my recent good fortune? I mean, how many people do you know that are getting paid by others who just want to listen in on their thoughts? Do you suppose I should just start picturing everyone in their underwear?

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