Eyes Open

Marianne Levy
5 min readJun 30, 2022


Last week, I recorded the audio version of my next book.

The studio setup was as I remembered; the windowless corridors, the soundproofed room sealed with not one, but two doors. A great place for a murder, I’ve always thought.

For, a few years ago, my job was to introduce programmes on television. Even now, I’ll occasionally get asked to give a rendition. ‘Close your eyes,’ I say, because it only works if you can’t see me speak, then launch into, ‘And coming up next tonight…’

‘Oh!’ people say, delighted. ‘That’s it!’

People generally hate hearing themselves, but if you are able, when speaking, not to be yourself, it is like severing the ties between the body and the mind. When I spoke, it was directly to each individual viewer, yet they never knew where or who I was, and never what I looked like.

They could not see how unsure I was, how small I had made myself, back when I was in my twenties. How sweet and charming, how fluffy. How desperate, and sad. When I leaned into the microphone, all that fell away.

Being just a voice, it was wonderful.

In writing circles, there’s a lot of talk about voice. My favourite writers are often those whose work has a performative aspect, and that, along with all those years in the sound booth, is why I am used to reading words, both mine and those of others, aloud. Only to myself, though. My articles and book reviews, my occasional — and always careful — posts on social media; for the last few years my public presence has been that of crisp black words on a nice white page.

She has sharp, clear edges, this woman with the same name as me; a woman who is edited, her mind, her life, orderly and cool, like the interior of Marie Kondo’s fridge.

For a time, this strategy has worked. Indeed, for the last few years it has worked better than I could have hoped, as first babies and then a pandemic kept me shut away from the world. Even when I have been writing about my messy, distracted, imperfect self, I have boxed her up; I have, on some level, removed myself from her, distilled her into ink.

Except that now my book is finished and I have to go out, see people, talk about it, I discover that she’s still there, the woman I would rather not be. She is me, the cardigan-wearing, cringing, awkward, five foot one blonde, who is always lugging one more carrier bag than is quite feasible, who feels ill at the thought of going to a party.

And like a magic trick gone wrong, I know that soon, the curtain will draw back, and the audience will sigh with disappointment.

“Just be yourself,” people say, but I can’t seem to find a way to explain to them my fear that in being myself, I will be letting my book down.

Ink is a kind of armour. It is easier, much easier, to speak freely on the page. Especially if you are a woman, socialised from the earliest age to be pleasant, not to interrupt or to raise your voice, never to talk over people (even when they talk over you). To carry the tea tray, to speak when you are spoken to, and never, once, to indicate your rage.

One can hide as well behind the slash of a capital letter as the lapel of a well-cut suit. For the more I think about it, the more I realise just how internalised my misogyny has become, how the parts of myself I wish to conceal, or, ideally, rid myself of entirely, are the parts that the world has taught me to loathe. The fleshy parts. The parts that get flustered. The face that flushes pink, the voice that rises higher than I would like.

I spent six years not saying what I wanted to say, or trying to say it and not being heard. Or being spoken over, or told that I was mistaken, or told that I was wrong. When, finally, two weeks after the birth of my son, I hauled my postpartum body to my desk and wrote the few hundred words that were the seed of the book I am about to publish, I was as though I had learned a new language. It was as if I had finally learned to speak.

So what do I do now?

The woman I am on the page, the woman I am in person, they can both be me, both are me. I just wish the gulf between them were not quite so great, that I do not spend my days jumping between the two. It would be such a relief to exist as one.

And, I hate this. I hate the energy it is forcing me to expend, and I hate myself for how shitty it is making me feel. As the weeks to publication tick down, I look in the mirror and panic.

I will go to bookshops, speak to journalists. I will put on my best dress and I will smile my brightest smile, and I will bring the whole of myself. And, honestly, I suspect that after everyone has packed up and gone home, I suspect that I will feel less than my book. Less than the sum of my parts.

But I will be there, nonetheless. Because I have a book to sell. Because I will not be silenced, not this time; I am forty three years old and I have had enough. Because what I want is to be heard, and to be seen, not as a socially acceptable construct, honed for the world of men, but as my whole self, my real self, by an audience whose eyes are open.

So if, in the next few weeks, you’d like to come to a bookshop and hear me talk about Don’t Forget To Scream, I say, crisp and confident and clear, and — fuck it — stuttering and shaky and shrill: I would love to see you there.


14.07.22 Marianne will be in conversation with Kate Maxwell, author of the recently published novel Hush, chaired by Beth Morrey, bestselling author of Saving Missy and Em & Me, at Owl bookshop, Kentish Town, London.
For more information, and to book:

21.07.22 Marianne will be in conversation with Kate Maxwell, author of Hush, chaired by Beth Morrey, bestselling author of Saving Missy and Em & Me, at Waterstones Crouch End, London
For more information, and to book:

SOLD OUT 25.07.22 Marianne will be in conversation with Natasha Lunn, author of the bestselling Conversations on Love, at BookBar, Highbury, London. Tickets include a copy of Don’t Forget To Scream.
For more information, and to book:


Don’t Forget To Scream will be published by Phoenix on July 21st 2022.

To pre order a copy, click here https://geni.us/DontForgetToScream

To find out more and to read my other pieces, go to www.mariannelevy.co.uk