It's a brave writer who rummages through their most intimate insecurities to expose them to the world in a deeply personal memoir.
"I feel a little bit like I've just done a striptease for the nation but that's what a memoir is really," says RMIT's Sian Prior, who teaches journalism and non-fiction writing in the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing.
Ms Prior's first book, the confessional memoir Shy, has recently been released through Text Publishing.
Written as part of her PhD in creative writing, the book has already been lauded for its unflinchingly honest, clever writing and the skilful way it weaves personal stories with research.
It is an intriguing paradox that as a well-known writer, broadcaster and accomplished musician, Ms Prior is profoundly shy in her private life.
Yet it is that disconnect between her public and personal self - the professional, calm and confident Sian versus the shy, unsure, anxious Sian - that first sparked her interest in writing about social anxiety and shyness.
"Shyness has troubled me my whole life and maybe I thought by researching it I could cure it and I now know that I'm not going to cure but that's ok," she says.
"The book turned out to be about social anxiety and in particular about my own personal experience with social anxiety which is what psychologists call shyness."
The book takes the microscope to shyness in a way that hasn't been done before.
Moreover, it provides an overall understanding of what it means to be shy, and details how Ms Prior has navigated her own social anxiety in various public and private roles.
Her research covers interesting physiological and psychological information about shyness - from the origins of blushing to what happens in your gut when you actually want to flee a social event.
"Lots of jigsaw pieces fell into place for me about why I had behaved in the way that I had and why I found it incredibly difficult to approach people… it was quite empowering to find out why I had these responses and the psychological reasons for them," she says.
Given that an estimated 40 per cent of the population identifies with this condition, and that those who do consider it a handicap, she hopes it will help others.
Ms Prior says that while the writing experience has been difficult and confronting, it has also been cathartic - a form of exposure therapy which is a frontline treatment for social anxiety.
"You expose yourself to what you fear most in little bits and pieces which in the case of social anxiety is negative evaluation," she says.
"I have been working on the project for four years and all along I've had to deal with the idea if I'm serious about getting it published then I will have to deal with people knowing all this stuff about me."
Understanding more about shyness has also diminished its power over her, weakening its ability to cripple her in social situations.
At the centre of the book is the intensely painful relationship break-up with her famous partner of 10 years.
"In a hideous ironic coincidence, in the middle of writing a book about the fear of negative evaluation - in other words the fear of rejection - I endured the worst social rejection of my life completely out of the blue," she says.
Including this in the book, she says, was difficult but absolutely necessary.
"I had to describe how I dealt with the worst possible example of the thing I was trying to write about," she says.
"It was excruciating and it became the fulcrum of the story in a way, having figured out that what I am most afraid of is rejection then having the irony of dealing with the worst rejection of my life."
Ms Prior joins a growing roll call of RMIT staff and alumni to achieve success in writing as part of the Professional Writing and Editing program.
RMIT's original Professional Writing and Editing program is now an Associate Degree and many graduates have achieved success in diverse forms of writing, including books, journalism, film, editing and publishing.
They include novelists Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project), Toni Jordan (Addition) and Holly Childs (No Limit), young adult authors Carole Wilkinson (Dragonkeeper series), Cath Crowley (Grafitti Moon) and performance writer Michele Lee, who won the 2013 AWGIE for the most outstanding original radio play.
* Shy has been released by Text Publishing, RRP $32.99.
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