Me, Me, Me

Haven’t been here lately. Two reasons, mainly:

One, the demands of rewriting the accurséd novel. Which is an insistent elephant foot on my chest. I cannot allow myself to write here because blogging squanders time. Big time. It was Calvin Trillin, I believe, who confessed that he feels pressure every time he has to write a note; he writes and rewrites it – even if it’s a note to put on his car. I know the feeling. A friend at work told me she found a typo in one of these posts. How funny that is, she said, because you’re an editor!

Two, writing here has started to feel faintly narcissistic to me. I mean, it feels like I’m only writing about myself, the subject I know best, of course. But, still. Feels weird. Perhaps because my father frowned on showing off? In our household, self-promotion = conceitedness = vanity. Not a good thing. Besides, who really cares what in hell I’m up to anyway?

A handful of people. My family, maybe. But I built this website because I wanted to have a permanent marker that I did actually walk this earth, and that I did write some stuff. I also wanted a place to direct people who ask me questions about my writing. Goes like this:

Hi, I hear you’re a writer!

Yes, I am.

Have you been published?

A little bit…

Will I have read anything you’ve written?

Uh. No.

See. Wouldn’t that make you feel like Ferdie, as they say in Jamaica? Yet, confidentially? I like that my listed occupation on my passport, on my tax returns is “writer.” That, because of all the corporate content I used to churn out for very handsome pay. Until I decided that writing in pantyhose, on eight-hour deadlines was the worst job I’d ever had.

Worse than my first job in America: a $90-a-week secretarial job in a perfume and flavor company in Cincinnati, Ohio when I’d come home reeking of the flavor of the day. Tangerine. New car aroma. Ox musk. Worse than temping with a bunch of certifiable flakes in an insurance company being closed down by its corporate headquarters. Worse than my college job of Weekend Word Processing Supervisor in a law firm at the height of Wall Street mergers and acquisitions. Lord, I’ve had some jobs, haven’t I?

So, people ask about the writing. Sometimes people ask more than once, twice, to let them read my work. Experience tells me it’s the idea of reading the stuff that non-writers like. They never get around to it — a manuscript in its raw form is hard to read, double-spaced and loose-leafed as it is. I know this as I know someone will leave the paper tray in the copy machine empty. Yet I hand it over.

It’s even worse with the website. The same people who say they can’t wait to read my work, have no real interest in logging on. [Incidentally, you might’ve read my last post where I invited writers to comment on rewriting. I wasn’t optimistic that anyone would. But my soliciting email did yield two comments – which I promptly lost when I deleted something on the backend, crashing the site. For the record, both Mary and Irene agreed with Karl that rewriting is a fresh and exciting opportunity for fiction writers.]

Then in troubleshooting my crashed site at WordPress, the weblog platform I use here, I stumbled on Lorelle VanFossen’s article on the writer as blogger, which then led me to this interesting piece,
The Author’s Dilemma: To Blog or Not to Blog by Claire E. White. Told you I was a master squanderer of time!

So, two questions:

One, should writers blogs?

And, two, how do you get over writing about yourself?

This entry was posted in Blog!.

One thought on “Me, Me, Me

  1. Which actually suggests a third question: Should the writing in your blog be about yourself?

    You make some fabulous points (and as a professional writer, I, too, have had my share of horrific and utterly ridiculous jobs) and bring up some great questions about all of this writing and blogging stuff. Ask my mother or father what I do for a living, they have no clue. They’ll say that they are proud of me, but of what they are clueless. “A writer? So where is your office?” Like you need an office to show off. “See, here is where my daughter works. What does she do? Hey, she has her own office, who cares.”

    An author can blog as part of their writing, but do they have to write about themselves? They can blog about their writing, the struggles of getting published (or not), their research, or about their personal day-to-day life. A blog doesn’t have to be all encompassing and I’ve seen all flavors.

    I guess I’d answer the questions this way: If whatever you are doing is an excuse to get in your own way to interfere with the process of being and doing your best, your passion, your goal – THEN STOP IT.

    If blogging is using up your word limit for the day, keeping you from the serious writing, then stop it. If blogging is feeding the frenzy of your writing passion, then continue to let blogging light your fire.

    If blogging is a break from writing the serious stuff, used to promote your “serious bill-paying writing”, or used as an accessory to your serious writing, then continue as it can only help.

    Just remember: BALANCE.

    Back to your final question “how do you get over writing about yourself?” If your obsession with blogging is to write about you, the person, then that’s your public diary. Do it or not. But if the writing is narcissistic, then it is stealing your power away from your real writing. Be careful with writing for vanity’s sake. Get over it. Get beyond the ego into the grit and grime that makes real stories come to life.

    I recently saw an old interview with Barbra Striesand who said that each of her movies and projects in the past 15 years have been to confront a fear or psychological issue inside of herself. “Yentl” confronted the father issue. Concerts got her past her fear of stage fright and performing. Doing interviews with the media after years hiding confronted her issues with lies and myths about her and others in her industry, helping her find her own voice and courage to speak out against injustice, war, and politics. “Nuts” confronted her issues of being sane among the insane, of being the voice to speak out when everyone else has already judged you. And so on. It made me think about what fears I’ve overcome recently to get past my own “stoppers”, “time wasters”, and “hold me backs” to keep me from the really good stuff in life.

    Honestly, I think I need to do more wall breaking down rather than wall building up for a change in my life. What about you?

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