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Monday, November 21, 2011

On Showing the Things

Once upon a time we were young and wrote things of great aspiration and intensity, and of great and fragile beauty (fragile in that who knew how many minds could look at it before it broke?) and showed them to each other, you know, one by one.

This was in ancient days, o my best beloved, and there were as yet no interwebs. We wrote the things in ink in spiralbound notebooks and we showed them to each other hand to hand, like combat before gunpowder. Or bows. Or something.

Time passed, things changed, and now I scatter words to the wind, and you have read them there. I have sort of got used to this.

Now a dear one from the spiral notebook times is about to publish a First Thing in a Long While, and somewhat belatedly realizing that the publishing-it bit meant that, in fact, people would read it (aargh!), she asked me, "how in the world do you deal with the showing it to people part?"

She said I should blog my answer:

I think partly I have evolved a second self? Or a layering of selves, like an onion. And the stories themselves need to be emancipated, too. The more attention they get, the farther away they move, so that while the unpublished ones ever feel like secret private things, like suckling infants within the shadowy soft concealment of one's clothes, the just-published ones are independent-minded little things making forays out, and one is crossing one's fingers that the first day of school will go well, and the better-known ones begin to have lives of their own, and something like The Orange, now, feels all grown up, its own thing entirely, someone I have some admiration for, but no responsibility any more, hardly anything to do with me. It is hard to remember that I wrote it. I am not sure I entirely believe that I did. It's just something that's out there, part of the world.

I think this is a learned skill, because when I started getting award nominations it was overwhelming, toxic, because I felt like people were talking about me, not about the stories, and that, of course, would be too much to bear.

Posted by benrosen at November 21, 2011 05:12 PM | Up to blog
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