Luskin: Nothing To Wear

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(HOST)  When her novel, Into the Wilderness,
was recently awarded the Independent Publisher’s
Gold Medal for Regional Fiction, author and commentator Deborah Luskin
was forced to confront an aspect of the writer’s life she’d never had to
consider before.

(LUSKIN)  I quit my day job in 2003, and have been writing
blissfully at home ever since.  It would be inaccurate to say I work in
my pajamas – the nightgowns I wear to bed are much nicer than my writing
clothes, which consist mostly of black fleece leggings and old shirts.
 Typically, I don these clothes in the dark, with the full intention of
changing into something more respectable – like blue jeans and a sweater
– after daybreak, especially if I have errands in the local village,
and imperatively if I have appointments downtown.

But it’s no
secret I don’t really like to leave home, and I often procrastinate
until I’m too late to change into decent attire.  I’ve been known to
apply lipstick while racing to an event, hoping that the novelty of
make-up will deflect attention from my baggy knees.  Fortunately, life
in my corner of Vermont makes "corporate casual" look like high fashion.

do have a few good outfits, which I wear when I teach or give a book
talk.  Since I rarely see the same students or audience twice, I’ve made
do with one dress and one suit, and accessorize for variety.
 Mercifully, it doesn’t matter what I wear to talk on the radio. And on
the rare date night, I dress up – in my black jeans.  These constitute
my "good clothes" – the ones I’m not supposed to wear in the garden, or
tend the chickens in.  But this is life in the country, and mud happens.

few nice things I own that don’t come from a catalog, I find at the
thrift store.  I’ve bragged to my friends in the well-heeled professions
that my whole wardrobe costs less than their weekly dry-cleaning bill.
 Who needs business attire to walk to the post office to mail off
submissions or collect rejections?

Turns out, every writer does,
if they’re writing, revising, rewriting and submitting to contests, to
journals, to agents or publishers.  These writers need something to wear
for that moment that seems impossible: acceptance.
That moment
happened to me recently, when I learned that a book I wrote won a prize.
 I enjoyed successive moments of disbelief and delight as I read and
reread the citation.  And then I focused on the fine print: "New York
City" and "business casual attire."  That’s when terror struck: if I had
to show up to collect it, what in my closet was I going to wear?

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