“Things you might not know about me as a writer.” It’s an awkward phrase, and I wrote an odd list after pondering the concept. The original challenge had seven points. I’m not good at following rules. That might be another point.
Point One: I assume my stories interest no one else.
Don’t mistake this for self-hatred, nor bitterness. Bitterness regularly develops on my surface, like a rind on cheese, but it isn’t the hearty, pithy nature of me. It’s a threshold effect of exposing my raw self to the toxic effects of humanity as a whole. Don’t mistake it for a choice. I don’t choose to believe that my imaginary worlds lack appeal, any more than I chose to have brown eyes or short legs. It’s a package deal. I do what I do, and I enjoy it, but the idea of my creations being desirable to anyone else is a fundamentally alien one.
Point Two: I can’t afford to care too much.
Since rejected is my default state of being, it’s my resting mode. I could consciously work on disbelieving it until the cows come home, but frankly, it’s exhausting. I would rather spend my emotional capital on other things. Things like, oh, playing with my imaginary worlds. I enjoy the squeezes out of doing that. I cannot make myself care about people caring about me. Self-promotion is difficult for many reasons, but this one is the hardest to explain to extroverted artists who gain energy from interaction.
Point Three: I am not a mind-reader
f I happen to know you’ve read a particular piece, I will assume you disliked it unless I’m explicitly and repeatedly informed otherwise. This is a straightforward emotional defense mechanism over which I have about as much control as I do over my breathing reflex. If you strike up a conversation with me to compliment anything I’ve created, you’re creating a huge emotional dissonance. It’s a happy kind of manic-panic, but it’s also overwhelming. I’m likely to babble and squirm in discomfort or even brush off your advances the way a small child will flap their hands at butterflies or flowers or other beautiful things. Please be patient. Or don’t.
Point Four: I hate being told I’m “a good writer.”
I’m not even comfortable with the noun. Few items on the ubiquitous “you know you’re a writer when…” checklists apply to me. Even fewer of the writerly memes speak to my heart. Yes, I have a tidy quarter-million words arranged in sentences and paragraphs and stories, but the culture of writing makes me reluctant to claim the label for myself. On top of that, the qualifier good, when applied to me, saps my spirit. It’s pressure. It’s a state-of-being compliment. It focuses the laser of judgment on the person instead of the action. It means I can’t simply do good things. I have to BE good. No, thank you. Being good is a heavy crown to wear. I’d rather be free to be a bad writer in the pursuit of better writing.
Point Five: I believe I make good things.
Writers aren’t supposed to admit they think their shit rocks the world. Humility is a cultural expectation, and one that is aggressively promoted. I don’t do good humble. Shy, yes. I’m practiced at shyness, to the point of social avoidance. Humble, no. (Don’t judge my shyness by the social skills I sometimes choose to employ. I’ve worked with the public for decades. I’ve built up a great tool kit I hate using, and public is easy, compared to personal.) Anyway, I don’t excel at pretending other people’s work is better than mine. I think I’m great, and sometimes I resent the hell out of the world for not recognizing it.
I’m a regular visitor to the Slough of Despond, but self-doubt is not the boat that floats me there. I know my writing doesn’t suck. Even when I say it does, with waving jazz hands and a nice screechy edge of angst in my voice, I know the craftsmanship isn’t half-bad. My worst crap is better than the best a lot of writers will ever produce, and that’s a fact. If I’m griping, I’m working. See this post for details.