My guest today is Miriam Drori, author of Cultivating a Fuji. The central theme of this book is social anxiety, a subject Miriam knows well as she has experienced it herself, given talks and written an excellent non-fiction book about it.
KJ Hello Miriam, welcome to the coffee shop. What can I get you to drink?
MD Thank you Katy, I’d like a Baileys and some cashews, please.
KJ Coming right up! Your book looks amazing and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime please can you tell us about Martin and his social anxiety?
Throughout his childhood and beyond, people failed to help Martin, the main character of my new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, and help was something he could have done with because, as a child and as a young man, he didn’t have the emotional tools to help himself.
But Martin’s parents were too wrapped up in themselves, and his teachers – in the 1960s and ’70s – didn’t see his problems as coming within the scope of their jobs. His colleagues? They were the ones who’d pushed him into his quiet, withdrawn, socially anxious state. And other people he meets on his path through life have worries of their own and aren’t able to make space for someone who’s so strange and different.
I don’t think any of them should be blamed for their failure to help. If they could have done more for Martin, that would have been something out of the ordinary. But most people, even the nice ones, just don’t know how.
Sadly, this is the case for so many sufferers of social anxiety. Yes, even today with all the procedures in place for identifying and treating children in need of therapy. Social anxiety still isn’t noticed as it should be. Why is that? It’s partly due to the very nature of the beast:
- Embarrassment causes people with social anxiety to avoid discussing their problems.
- Many people with social anxiety live in fear of being “found out” and feel this is the worst thing that could happen to them.
And it’s partly due to the reactions of the rest of society. Many people don’t see the symptoms as being problematic. They acknowledge a certain “shyness” and assume the owner of these symptoms is happy to be quiet and withdrawn.
So many sufferers of social anxiety could be happier and more productive members of society if only they received recognition and help. That’s why we need to talk about social anxiety.
In Martin’s case, circumstances provide the impetus for him to move on in his life. It all starts with that trip to Japan…
Cultivating a Fuji
Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…
KJ Thanks Miriam – the Book sounds wonderful and I know a lot of us will identify with Martin.
Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives
with her husband and one of three grown up children in Jerusalem.
With a degree in Maths and following careers in computer programming and technical writing, Miriam has been writing novels and short stories for fourteen years. After some success with short stories, Miriam turned her hand to longer fictional works, publishing NEITHER HERE NOR THERE and THE WOMEN FRIENDS: SELINA, co-written with Emma Rose Millar.
Social anxiety features in Miriam’s latest publications. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED is a non-fiction guide that explores this common but little-known disorder from multiple points of view. The book has been highly recommended by ‘sufferers’ as well as professionals in this field. CULTIVATING A FUJI is the story of a fictional character who battles against social anxiety before learning to make friends with it.
When not writing, Miriam enjoys reading, hiking, dancing and touring.
Cultivating a Fuji is available from mybook.to/cultivatingafuji.
Amazon page: Author.to/MiriamDroriAtAmazon.