not exactly

Friday, January 28, 2005


masochists and narcissists

No writer escapes the craft without becoming (or maybe he was to begin with?) both masochistic and narcissistic. I'm not talking about staring at himself in the mirror all the time or asking his lover to whip him (though I'm sure plenty of writers are those types as well). It's a bit more subtle than that.

You find it in all kinds of fanfics. Author's notes. Lengthy introductions a la Orson Scott Card. References to "the first author" in textbooks. The beginning of an internet publication with "I know I haven't written in awhile, but..." (see previous post if you don't know what I'm talking about).

See, authors are always a bit crazy. We know we're irrelevant and we know that no one cares how long it's been since we wrote or what kind of great excuse we have. All they care about (if they do) is what we've produced. If it's good, they will read; if it's not, try again.

The writer is both the ultimate extrovert and introvert, all in one package. To the writer, every piece of work is achingly revealing of him; to the reader, every piece of work is either irrelevant or achingly revealing...of the reader. People do not gaze upon a piece of art and say, "I think the artist was trying to tell me that he feels ____." Viewers look and say, "I feel ____. That is what the artist was trying to say"--even if that is the opposite of the truth.

Face it. People don't care enough about others to read in order to learn about other people. We read to learn about ourselves. We both read and write to look in a mirror, to see our own ghastly features reflected back at us. When we write we are forced to understand, and that's the scariest thing about it all. Once you've seen what you really look like, you can't turn back. Even if it hurts.

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