Friday, October 19, 2012

More October Randutiae -- Including Something About Self-Exposure as a Writer

I like the funny political videos the folks at are creating. Rosie Perez sets Mitt straight on whether it's easier to get elected as a Latino; Sarah Silverman and Lizz Winstead agree with Mitt that people aren't people, corporations are people; and here's W. Kamau Bell, who hates science:

(Thanks, B.)


Sometimes, after doing a search for a particular song in my iTunes library, I take a look at the whole range of songs the search brought up and use that as my random morning playlist. For example, this morning, I'm listening to all the songs in my library that appeared when I searched for the word "heart." This includes "Sleight of Heart" by Aaron English (you should all be listening to the songs of Aaron English); "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young; "Empty Hearts" by Alison Krauss; "Learning to Fly" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; "Love Montage: I Saw Him Once/In My Life/A Heart Full of Love" from Les Mis; two different versions of "Broken Hearted Hoover Sucker Guy" from Once (which might be a bit much); "You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart" by Sinead O'Connor; "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" by Michael Nyman (from The Piano soundtrack); "Shape of My Heart" by Sting; "The Heart of Life" by John Mayer; "You and Your Heart" by Jack Johnson; and of course the entirety of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Lovely.


A friend said something smart and funny to me recently about jealousy, and it's worth sharing. She said you don't want to let the slathering dogs off the leash, but you do need to feed them now and then :). Interpret that how you will.


There's something I've been struggling to articulate for a while about being a writer and self-exposure. I keep fumbling with the words, but I'm going to try it here, because if you're the kind of writer who's anxious/nervous/scared of exposing yourself with your work, you might find this comforting. Of course, some writers don't have a problem with being exposed; their writing is, among other things, a process of self-exposure. But what I'm saying here is for those writers who don't want to expose themselves; those writers who are trying to do something else when they write.

A friend said an unexpected nice thing to me recently. She told me that when she read Bitterblue, she was looking for me in it, but she couldn't see me in there. Instead, she saw a kaleidoscope. Maybe little pieces of me would slide by now and then, but then they would be obscured by something else.

The reason she made this (possibly odd if taken out of context) remark is that she knows that one of the reasons book releases are hard for me is that I feel exposed. "You're not exposed," she said. "No one who doesn't know you is going to recognize you inside this book. They may think they know you, but that's only because they're conflating you with the book. They don't actually."

Is that comforting?

You're not exposing yourself with your work. Maybe people think you are -- but you need to remember that there is often a big difference between what is true and what people think. The next step, I suppose, is learning not to care what people think.

I have friends who are writers and other kinds of artists. I think it's relevant that when I miss them, I find I don't reach for their books. Maybe I'll reread their letters or emails, but mostly I just reach out to them. It's not their art I'm missing; it's them.

You are safe. Proceed.