…With All the News That’s Fit to Print

blue soapbox  It was late afternoon when my publicist, Nina, called, and I was scrambling to get ready for a party I was hosting that evening.  I was thinking flatware, not book promotion.  Plus, I’ve barely gotten used to the idea that I have a publicist.

“So this reporter from the New York Times just phoned,” Nina said.  “He wants to interview you.”

WHAT!?” I would have shrieked, but I was so stunned, I’d left my body.

“Tomorrow morning, 9:30.  Isn’t it awesome?”

“But—but—what do I say?” I blurted.

Nina laughed.  We strategized.  I scribbled down notes, my hand shaking.

I’ve been interviewed a number of times recently following the publication of my novel, The Measure of His Grief, and while I’ve been thrilled with the exposure, I’m always a little rattled by the process.  First of all, with subject matter as squirmy, emotionally charged, and complex as the circumcision controversy, it’s easy to misspeak or be misinterpreted.  There’s a lot of nuance to convey, and once I get started, I tend to want to elaborate—a good way to get tripped up in an interview.

Between the challenging topic and the obvious pressure of the Times name brand, how was I going to sound calm and articulate the next day?

It’s always been hard for me to speak my mind about something and then stop talking.  Especially in situations where I don’t get an immediate, readable response, I want to fill the empty space.  It’s as if the silence is an invitation to self-doubt, something to be countered.

Even if I’ve just expressed my opinion that tomatoes don’t belong in a green salad, a blank look will set me rolling. Because tomatoes make it too soggy, don’t you think?  And another thing—what’s with butter lettuce and arugula?  I mean, where’s the appeal in salad greens that aren’t crunchy?

I’d have to be different the next morning.  I’d have to trust my talking points, speak them, and then stop.

Think of the silences as time for meditation, I told myself.

Did someone say medication? I retorted.

I woke up early and spent several hours refining pithy statements that reflected my perspective, and when the reporter called, I was ready.  It went smoothly, and he even indicated that I was educating him on several points.

Not that it was easy.  I would say something, stop, and hear him wheezing or clicking his throat as he typed.  These wordless moments were long and loud the way a pundit’s pores are huge and distracting on HDTV.

I kept fighting the urge to add something spontaneous.  “My novel is really about a family in crisis,” I wanted to explain.  “It’s not just about the issue; it’s about the characters.”  But he was writing an article about the issue.  I stuck to the plan.  Breathe.

“You nailed it,” my husband, Mark, said afterward.  But a few days later, when the article appeared—I wasn’t even mentioned in it.

This time, I found myself fully able to shriek, “WHAT!?

And a few other words of similar length.

Published in The Piedmont Post, December 15, 2010

A note to my readers: Thank you so very much for your patience while I’ve been promoting my novel.  I still plan to write columns, though perhaps not as frequently, as I figure out what’s next.

Please check out my web site, http://www.lisabravermoss.com, for news about The Measure of His Grief.  And let me know if you’d like for me to come talk to your reading group to discuss the book!

Feel free to contact me — lisa@lisabravermoss.com.  Thanks!

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4 Responses to “…With All the News That’s Fit to Print”

  1. BB Says:

    Good to read your column again! You never know with these papers what they’ll print and how they’ll print it. Sometimes they do print the interview just not exactly what you said!

    Continued success with your book.

    XOXO

  2. Michele Lieban Levine Says:

    Wonderful to see you back in your column again. I missed them. It was like being on a diet and now I can read chocolate again.

    So? Where’s the link to the NYT article so I can get frustrated, too?

  3. Intactivist Jew Says:

    * There is a movement of Jews who are questioning circumcision, and working to end this abuse of children. The movement ranges from the Orthodox to the secular, and includes mothers, fathers, scholars, historians, medical professionals, activists, and intellectuals.

    * Jews Against Circumcision http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
    * The Current Judaic Movement to End Circumcision: Part 1
    http://intactnews.org/node/105/1311886372/jewish-voices-current-judaic-movement-end-circumcision-part-1

    The Kindest Un-Cut Feminism, Judaism, and My Son’s Foreskin by Professor Michael S. Kimmel
    http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/kimmel1/

    Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack has some great commentary on Foreskin Man in this recent interview.
    http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/07/defying-convention-interview-with_27.html

    Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors
    http://intactnews.org/node/103/1311885181/jews-speak-out-favor-banning-circumcision-minors

    • Lisa Braver Moss Says:

      Yes, I’m quite aware of all this — I am one of the early pioneers in this area, having published articles questioning circumcision from a Jewish point of view back in 1990 and 1991 in Tikkun and Midstream. I was also a speaker at the Second International Conference on Circumcision in 1991. My recently published book The Measure of His Grief (Notim Press, 2010) is the first novel ever to tackle the circumcision controversy. Please visit http://www.lisabravermoss.com.

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