Author Vulnerability: Suzy Vitello to My Rescue! 9

Suzy Vitello, Roxy Soule, author

Suzy Vitello as Roxy Soulé

We creative writers—whether of memoir, poetry, screenplays, or fiction—unmask ourselves. It’s partly what impels many of us to write, our need to turn ourselves inside out for the world to see what we’re experiencing inside, and sometimes our need to try to empty ourselves of what’s itching us, or even agonizing us.

But while this need to dig deep and reveal our innards drives many of us to write, once the words are made public, it gets mighty scary. How will others judge our private thoughts, which can be just as ugly as our corporal guts?

In an email to a writing teacher of mine, Suzy Vitello, I expressed my extreme discomfort with the over-exposure and vulnerability I feel as a novelist. She responded by saying something so important to me as a writer I copied her quote and posted it by my computer. It follows.

“I am blessed to be part of a writers’ group that explores all manner of dark, raw and dangerous, so for me, going to that sore, wounded place is not disgusting at all. It’s authentic and necessary, and I applaud you for going there on your own. It is brave, and it is healing, and your true audience will always appreciate that you do that.”

As testimony to the wisdom of her advice, her writing group was called “the hottest writing group in Portland” by Jeff Baker of The Oregonian. The group includes New York Times best-selling authors Cheryl Strayed, Chelsea Cain, and Chuck Palahniuk.

Thanks for the encouragement, Suzy. I will summon your advice when my inner critic is screaming at me to write nice.

About Maureen Kay

Maureen Kay has just finished writing a novel called Fracture. She blogs about her personal experiences, bigger issues, other authors, and her writing journey.

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9 thoughts on “Author Vulnerability: Suzy Vitello to My Rescue!

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Some days I really want to hide myself away. But then I think of the stories I’ve read that have meant the most to me, and know they took even more courage than they did skill.

  • Allyssa Axell

    Spilling your guts about your extreme discomfort with potential over-exposure as a novelist makes for fascinating reading.

    Your honesty as a writer is formidable.

    Were you not so forthright, you would not have received Suzy Vitello’s email with her wonderful description of the rewards that ensue from having the courage to be authentic and true.

    Like a writer I know named Maureen Kay.

  • Maureen Kay Post author

    Thanks! It is a year and a half later, and I’m at a stage of my novel when it’s so close to being finished that I find I’m more terrified than ever. No wonder some authors freeze at this point, and never submit their work for publication. Writing is such a private activity, and the next stage is so public–no matter what the outcome of the submittal process.

    I wish to add that since writing this post, two of Suzy Vitello’s novels have been published by Diversion Books: The Moment Before (a Junior Library Guild Selection), and The Empress Chronicles. Her collection of short stories, Unkiss Me, includes prize winners and is available in e-version. She is an awesome writer, so please check out her website at You can read excerpts of her novels there, order her books, sign up for her entertaining blog, and more.

  • Suzy Vitello

    I am honored by this, Maureen. And I do believe, with all of my heart, that feeling vulnerable is a precursor to touching humanity’s deepest nerve on the page, which is a huge gift to readers.

  • Shari Goss

    You have so many wonderful insights, and an amazing ability to put them in writing. I always look forward to seeing your post in my inbox.