Behind the Facade

Monday, April 15, 2019

I’m a writer. I’m not someone who wants to be an “influencer,” per say. I much prefer to sit on my couch with my dogs, my computer, or a good book. On social media, I’ll occasionally share a photo from an activity I’m at or a good meal I whipped up. But I paused a few days ago when someone who is a business coach talked about how you should get more “personal” in your social media accounts. I wondered if this is good advice for a writer looking for an agent or not. Does it make you seem more real, or authentic? Does it make you look more like a person who would leap through fire to sell her books?

I decided to take a baby step and try that strategy out here today on the blog. So I’m lifting the façade, and being honest with everyone. I hope this post will help convince other introverted writers such as myself that they are not alone.

Revelation #1
I struggle with my weight, and have since I was about 14 years old. This shocked me when I thought about it the other day. That’s a long time to be worrying about your weight! I think the concern first started because I had a chaotic childhood where my parents moved houses three or four times a year during my formative years. I eventually grew so frustrated I thought maybe if I stopped eating things would get better and slow down the craziness. Well, they didn’t. I grew up with a Hispanic mother and grandmother and aunts who didn’t hesitate to speak out if I ate too many tortillas or guacamole and gained a few pounds. Have you ever seen that movie Real Women Have Curves? Starring America Ferrera? Story of my life. I finally got professional help when I was 19, but I still find myself having to be conscientious about what I eat and how often I exercise.

Revelation #2
I have persistent depression and anxiety. Sometimes I think this goes hand and hand with being a creative person. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m sure a lot of you will agree with me here. The funny thing is, I never considered myself an “anxious” person. Sure, I carry my car keys in my hand with my finger poised over the unlock button in every parking lot, and lock the door as soon as I get inside. Sure, I make sure I’m never on my phone in a parking lot as I’m walking to my car at night, and maybe I occasionally wake up in the middle of the night worrying (about my kids, my husband, something I forgot to do at work, a deadline I’m not sure I’ll be able to meet) etc. but that doesn’t make me an anxious person, right? Ha! I think this is something that has gotten worse with age but I’m working on it. I have to take more time to care for myself before caring for others, knowing when I need to bow out of a social activity that will make me uncomfortable, and simply taking time to decompress when I need it.

Revelation #3
I am a blessed person. Despite my misgivings, and despite a distant relationship with my extended family, I have a lot. I live in a beautiful house, have a job that’s ten minutes away from that house, and have two kids and a husband who love me completely even with my quirks (I think!) I have two dogs who are almost always happy to see me, and I have a phone and earbuds that can feed all the podcasts I can handle into my ears as I exercise outdoors. I also have access to good food, good books, and the occasional margarita. Life is good and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

What are some revelations about you that others may not know? Do you have any quirks or fears you’d feel comfortable sharing, because, guess what? We’re all in this together, and keeping things inside isn’t always the healthiest route.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also works as a marketing director for a nonprofit theatre company. Visit her website at


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Lifting the facade lets us know that a talented writer like yourself struggles with things... as we all do.

I struggle with overeating. I'm trying to tame my sugar addiction--one day at a time. Some days I do well, and on other days, I stumble.

Also, deep down, I feel like I was rejected by my birth mother, even though it was the best decision (for me).

Renee--thanks for this post. Being honest--and allowing the reader in a little--is always a good idea (in my opinion). And that new photo shows that you're still impervious to the aging process. (Is that a giant margarita? It looks delicious ;)

Nicole Pyles said...

Being open isn't easy for sure! It's something I'm hesitant about on social media but since you're brave, I can be brave. I am tremendously uncomfortable in social situations and also struggle with my anxiety. I also worry a lot about using my faith in my writing - I worry when I do, I worry when I don't. I worry.

And that margarita looks amaaaaazing.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Renee ~ I love this post, and this is why I write creative nonfiction. It's better than therapy and I can expose my "ugly" real side in search of truth. This year I started submitting work, but for the past couple years after I started writing again, I didn't want to submit personal essays because I didn't want to "lift the facade" on how messed up my life was growing up. I did a lot of drugs. I hooked up with the wrong men and got into lots of trouble, even committed crimes. I suffered from depression and ptsd. I raised myself since I was a thirteen and was broke all the time and couldn't hold down a job for too long until I started my own business at twenty-six. Then I found out that being an entrepreneur was the only thing in life that made sense to me, gave me purpose and joy. After becoming an entrepreneur, I became afraid that putting the stories from my past out into the world would ruin my reputation. But then it occurred to me one day that hiding was making me miserable and holding me back. I have to do me. And really, I don't think anyone cares what I've done in the was so long ago and I've overcome those things, and people are too concerned with themselves to care about what I'm doing.

As far as the business coach's advice on getting more personal on your social media accounts, and whether or not it would be good for an author seeking an agent, I think you should do what you enjoy and not worry about it. You might find out that sharing personal things is freeing. :)

On your #3, you forgot to mention that you're a kick-butt writer!

I struggle sometimes with social anxiety and public speaking. I was practically mute growing up, so the fact that I can even speak is amazing. Lol. I think we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be who we think others want us to be, when we should just be ourselves.

Margo Dill said...

This post is very touching, Renee, and so are the comments from Sioux, Nicole, and Ang. I do wonder sometimes if sensitive and emotional souls are really drawn to writing or if writing makes us that way. LOL

Seriously, I struggle with anxiety and depression too. I also used to never share personal things, and then when I got divorced, it pretty much all came out because it was the only thing I could write about and it was basically just garbage writing. But it kept me writing and some people have said that they appreciated my honesty. I also notice that I really resonate with people who share honestly in memoirs, personal essays, social media, etc.

But I agree with Angela that we have to do what we want to do and not worry about everyone else or the advice, etc.

I have a framed photo on my wall that says: "Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I don't have to do what everyone else is doing."

Lynn said...

This was a refreshing post. Thank you, Renee.
I struggle with trying to find a way to talk about my writing without feeling like I have a big "all about me" tattooed on my forehead.
I work hard to be "fun" in social situations because I don't want to come across as standoffish, but frankly it's exhausting, and after a short time I just want people to stop engaging me in conversation.
I avoid deeply personal essays because I'm afraid of revealing too much. I can say the same things in fiction, but it's not "me" speaking.
I probably like dogs more than most people.
I'm trying not to be outspoken on social media because I don't want to alienate anyone who might buy my book (undergoing revision). How's that for being...gads...I can't even put a word to it.

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--Thank you. I was so afraid I would come across as a whiner in this post but I also hear about how we have to be our "authentic" selves, and mine isn't always a giant ball of fun! Thank you for joining in and "lifting the veil" about the things you struggle with.

Nicole--Glad I inspired you to be brave! I always love all the introvert memes I see going around (like the one about the person freaking out about someone ringing the doorbell in the middle of the day? That's so me!) I HATE going to parties where I only know one or two parties because I feel like I am the worst at making small talk. Yes, the margarita was amazing and it didn't last very long!

Angela--I'm so glad you decided to start sharing the reality of your life in your writing. See how well it's going for you, along with being incredibly therapeutic? What an inspiration! I've decided I'm going to write a memoir one day called "Near Misses," because I feel like I've had so many close calls with what could have been dangerous people, events, etc and I'm somehow still here. Creative nonfiction is so much more of an art form than I ever realized, so I hope to dabble in more of it as you have!

Margo--I LOVE the quote on your wall. I've always felt like I wasn't quite in step with what everyone around me was doing (especially when I was in my teens) and now I realize I didn't have to be. Although I know we both love to write fiction, there is definitely some beauty in letting everything else fall onto the page, even if know one else reads it!

Lynn--I struggle with many of the same things as you. I try to avoid being too political on social media (I realized recently I lost one friend on Facebook and the only reason I could think of is that she saw me commenting on someone else's post about a political matter and realized we weren't on the same side. I hope that isn't what really caused her to distance herself from me, but it was the only reason I could come up with). See, I worry too much about what other people think as well. Thank you for joining in on this conversation! I used to try to scatter breadcrumbs in my own fiction (and I still do) but putting things down in essay form has been liberating in a way I couldn't have imagined. Now, if I actually submit any of these essays is another story . . .

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