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Empty.

An hour later. Still empty. This bothers me. I am embarrassed that it bothers me. But not embarrassed enough that it stops me from checking again. I can tell you that I didn’t waste time checking throughout the day, in between seeing patients, I could tell you that, but that would be a lie. I can tell you I only checked a few more times on Wednesday, November 12th. I could say that, but that would be a lie too. The truth is I lost count.

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November 13th, 2014.

It’s the day after my first Rumpus article is posted: 

The Rumpus Interview with Paul Gilmartin
By Rachel Newcombe, November 12th, 2014

No comments. No bold red balloon with a number inside.

Empty Comment Balloon

Paul Gilmartin, the subject of the interview, emails me and lets me know how much he appreciates the article. This makes me happy. I love his podcast the Mental Illness Happy Hour and hope that the Rumpus article will guide people to his show. I’m getting emails from my therapist friends and colleagues who read the interview. Their responses are positive. They are happy to see depictions of psychoanalysis in mainstream writing. A relief for me. I worried my colleagues would criticize how I described the process of psychoanalysis. A link to the Gilmartin interview is posted on www.internationalpsychoanalysis.net. Does this make my article more professionally legitimate? And what exactly does that mean anyway?

More responses and emails from my colleagues. All positive. This isn’t a lie. But now that I think about it I probably will not receive personal emails from people who didn’t like the interview. Now I am full out judging myself. My superego is clamping down. Harsh and accusing. Why does it matter that I want my work to be responded to positively? Or to be responded to at all?

My hunch is that every single one of us who writes something for publication wants to know that someone has read our work. We want to make contact. Why else would we make our writing public? Now there is an idea. What if at the end of every piece of writing the writer posted what they were hoping for from their reader. It would go something like this: Rachel Newcombe is a psychoanalyst in the San Juan Islands and Seattle, Washington. When you read this article she hopes that you will write a really short comment letting her know you will check out Gilmartin’s podcast. Oh, and she also wouldn’t mind if you commented on her interviewing style.

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November 14th.

My daughter calls me from college and tells me she put a link to the Gilmartin interview on her Facebook page.

November 15th.

Yes. I checked.

Empty.

Empty Comment Balloon

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At this point on day two I tell myself I am relieved that there are no mean or snarky comments. I tell myself I’d rather have an empty red balloon than a red balloon with the numeral three tucked inside indicating there are some comments waiting to be read. Comments that might say, “The interviewer is a narcissist.” or “The interviewer obviously does not understand psychoanalysis.” or my worst fear, “What is the point of this interview?”

I am relieved the balloon is empty. This is not a lie.

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Later in the week I remember The Rumpus posted a review of the new book Women in Clothes. There it is, October 15th, 2014. Amy Feltman tells us she is interviewing the book’s three authors, “Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton, “via Skype, with the occasional interruption of poor connection and an eavesdropping ghost.”

I read the interview and halfway through I know I will definitely buy this book. When I get to the end of the interview I read the author’s bio:

Amy Feltman is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She works at Poets & Writers Magazine and is in the murky midst of editing her first novel.

That’s it. The end. No comments. How can this be? Why no comments? Am I part of the problem? Perhaps I am guilty by omission. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview yet I didn’t leave a comment. Why? I guess I am worried it’s trite to write, “Great interview. I am excited to buy the book.” Now I feel guilty.

Empty Comment Balloon

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It’s still early in the morning and I have plenty of time before I need to leave the house. Lately my routine involves getting up at 5 a.m., making coffee and reading The Rumpus.

I land on October 29th, 2014, The Rumpus Interview with Alysia Abbott by Jody Smiling. I absolutely love this interview, like really love it. I had already read Abbott’s book, Fairyland and was blown away by her story and her writing. I am completely hooked by the end of Smiling’s introduction. Who is this writer Jody Smiling? I slide down to the end of the article and read her bio:

Jody Smiling divides her time between San Francisco and Toronto but her heart never leaves Banff. Her work recently appeared in Toronto Life and Prism International. She’s working on Lessons from Koostatak, a biography of an ordinary teacher. She tweets @jodysmiling. 

I google Jody Smiling. I jot down her name on the pad next to my computer. I know I will read more of Smiling’s work.

When I finish the review I see someone has left a comment. I read it.

One Comment

Elizabeth Coleman Says:
October 30th, 2014 at 3:08 a.m.

It love it when an interviewer asks such perceptive & thoughtful questions. And Alysia Abbott’s answers shine — great stuff on the process of memoir, why she chose the title she did, and the story behind her book’s coming film adaptation by Sofia Coppola (which seems like such a great match)

Wow. I love Elizabeth Coleman’s comment. I completely agree with her assessment of Smiling as an interviewer and Abbott as a writer.

It’s rather odd. I am not jealous. Instead, I am inspired. The next day I lend my copy of Fairyland to a friend.

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I stumbled upon The Rumpus in 2013, the year I fell in literary-love with Lidia Yuknavitch. I had just finished reading The Chronology of Water and I googled to find out more about this woman who was making me flutter and up popped a link to:

The Rumpus Interview with Elizabeth Scarboro and Lidia Yuknavitch
By Roxane Gay April 3rd, 2013

Yuknavitch, like the writer Carole Maso, puts forth writing that defies categorization in favor of using words and fragments of ideas that transgress into their own beautiful structure, beckoning the reader to suspend preconceived ideas about linear narrative.

The interviewer Roxane Gay tells us why she is doing this interview:

In recent years, as I’ve read more memoirs, I have struggled with how to talk about memoir critically, how to separate form from content. Both Yuknavitch and Scarboro, whose books echo each other in interesting ways, were willing to talk with me about this question of what to do with memoir, and much more.

I, too, am interested in how to talk and write about memoir and the thorny issue of how to separate form from content or how to determine if that is even possible. This interview introduces me to both Elizabeth Scarboro and Roxane Gay. In City Lights Books in San Francisco last summer I spot Roxane Gay’s book, Bad Feminist, and remember where I first heard of her, The Rumpus. And then I learn that Roxane Gay was the Essay Editor at The Rumpus. Of course.

I continue wondering how the website The Rumpus has been in existence and I’ve known nothing about it? I was clueless. I feel an obsession coming on.

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As predicted my Rumpus education/obsession takes off. First stop:

Conversations with Writers Braver Than Me #14: Marco Roth
By Sari Botton January 4th, 2013

I read the entire interview and finish with two prominent thoughts, 1) I must read Roth’s The Scientists: A Family Romance and 2) I must read Botton’s Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.

You know the exhilaration that comes when you realize there are writers who have the same sensibilities as you and then how your own voice becomes more recognizable to you? Well, this is what was happening to me during my Rumpus education. It was like back in 2001 when I first read Carole Maso, a writer and thinker who exposed me to the elegance of non-traditional writing. I followed the Maso thread to Kathy Akers and Eileen Myles and made an unwavering commitment to experiment with my academic writing. It was freeing.

You think you know what a book is, what reading is, what constitutes a literary experience. In fact you’ve been happy all these years to legislate the literary experience. All too happy to write the rules.

–Carol Maso

So I read both Roth and Botton. I discover that Marco Roth is the nephew of writer Anne Roiphe. I heard Roiphe speak at a conference in 2001 in New York City, The Anxiety of Authorship: Examining and Overcoming Women’s Inhibitions in Self-Expression. Carol Maso was there too. She and Roiphe were on a panel called The Writer’s Voice. I also find out that Roth went to The Dalton School in New York City where I taught in the early 1980s. Roth’s father was a doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital and I also worked at Mt. Sinai Hospital. I feel oddly connected to Marco Roth.

Then there is Sari Botton. Her book speaks to me because like the writers in her book I also loved and left NYC after calling it my home for twenty-six years. When Botton’s follow-up book comes out, Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York, I buy that one too. The first essay I read is by Rumpus founder and Editor-in-Chief Stephen Elliott. I like learning about his connection to NYC and San Francisco. Living with my own unshakable love for NYC, I want to tell Stephen that I have recently fallen in love with San Francisco. Truly, madly, deeply in love in a way that I never thought I could after leaving NYC. Although I like where I now live on Orcas Island, just knowing San Francisco is a short two-hour flight away has changed my life. My newfound urban love, San Francisco, has me wondering if I should contact Sari Botton and pitch her an idea I have about co-editing a book.

I am in deep. The Rumpus has become a full blown passion. The good kind. My life has not become unmanageable. Well, not yet. But what it has become is fuller.

Before I contemplate ways to pace myself I know I have one last urgent task. I have to find out some details about Stephen Elliott. I cannot rest until I do this. I hit the FAQ section and get a quick overview:

Founded by Stephen Elliott, The Rumpus launched on January 20, 2009. Since then, our community has grown but we’ve kept our core: we want to change the conversation. We want to introduce you to authors you’ve never heard of before and to provide perspective on books, films or media that will make you look deeper. What’s meaningful to our writers and readers doesn’t usually fall in step with marketing schedules, breaking news or what’s trending on the Internet; at The Rumpus, we care about what moves people. We believe that literature is community—

Now I get why I like this website so much. I feel a sense of belonging each time I log on. The Rumpus is a gift. Bountiful. Presents that keep coming. I don’t care if that sounds trite. It’s how I feel. I read about Stephen Elliott. There’s so much. I decide to start with The Adderall Diaries and A Life without Consequences. I also sign up for The Daily Rumpus and get “overly personal emails from Stephen Elliott.”

Thank You Comment

My friend once said to me if you want to get a sense of someone’s unconscious just follow their web history for a day. Well, anyone looking at my web history for the past year and a half would see that my unconscious process has many streams flowing to and from TheRumpus.net.

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Endnote:

I check my Paul Gilmartin interview a week after it is posted. A dazzling red balloon with a “1” in the middle.

One Comment

I quickly scroll down to the bottom and read:

One Response to “The Rumpus Interview with Paul Gilmartin”

Inverness Says:
November 21st, 2014 at 7:06 a.m.

Thank you for this lovely interview.


Rachel Newcombe is a psychoanalyst in the San Juan Islands and Seattle, Washington. Her writing has appeared in Contemporary Psychoanalysis,The Psychoanalytic Review, Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Fort Da and other psychoanalytic publications. More from this author →