Yesterday I received a note from the managing editor of New York Press, congratulating me. Fear would be published in next week’s issue, in the New York Stories section. I wouldn’t be paid anything, but my words would be handed out at subway stations citywide, along with the morning news.
A few hours later, I went to a meeting of a writing group I belong to. I hadn’t been to a meeting in months, and of the twenty-some people, I knew only three or four. During introductions, I announced that an essay about my New York-induced paranoia would be published, and that the whole city would know how crazy I was.
That drew laughter and applause. It also got me thinking. Would I really want everyone to know that I can be a little nuts? Of course, everyone in New York is a little nuts. But would I really want to put that in writing? What would the neighbors think? What would happen to the property values in Park Slope?
Incidentally, Mark and I played Lotto last week, when the pot reached 300 million dollars. Besides deciding what I’d buy (an apartment in Paris, lots of shoes, Costa Rica), I tried figuring out how I could collect the money without anyone knowing. That’s the thing about publicity: good news or bad, once people know, it’s out of your hands. People could flock to your door or run away, and there wouldn’t be a thing you could do.
So I decided to publish under a pseudonym.
I didn’t have time to think of a name for my openly paranoid self. I chose ‘Nancy Boyd’, which Edna St. Vincent Millay called herself in the 1920's, when her stories were published in Vanity Fair. This was an homage to my friend Nancy, who chose her own nickname after Nancy Sinatra. The pseudo Nancy listens to a song sung by the real Nancy to deal with her horrible breakup.
So Nancy, the Nancy who is open about her nuttiness, will have her day in print next week. I’ll be happy for her.