Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Best Policy

I'm not sorry if my last post was sad.

Since I started writing (and letting people see what I write) five years ago, I've found my strength is honesty. I don't write well if I don't write what I'm thinking. My voice is loudest, clearest, saddest (and funniest) when I tell the truth. And I'm more honest in my writing than anywhere else in my life. I can tell complete strangers my most private thoughts when I'm writing (this blog is a perfect example), but I find it excruciatingly difficult to tell my best friend those same things.

Another perfect example of this would be when, in a story for a writing class, I carefully detailed my first time performing oral sex. I was a little anxious over how it would be received, but I really wasn't embarrassed or nervous for my peers to read it. In that same class, I was honest about love, relationships, my parents' marital problems, my strange grandmother, and the ugly phase I went through circa junior high.

I guess I like telling the truth. But I find it so hard when I'm face-to-face, when I'm actually speaking. A writer can edit, delete, and italicize until her truth feels just right. But what is a strength for me seems to be a weakness for many other writers, those who write in circles because they cannot be honest with themselves. I recently went to a reading of a memoir book where a woman in the audience asked the author how she was able to write so honestly about herself. This woman wanted to write memoir, but couldn't seem to tell the truth. She was editing herself, fearing readers' reactions. This was foreign to me. It's easy to be honest so long as you don't see your readers. What makes being honest on this blog so easy is that I personally know very few of the readers. And it is for those few I do know that I worry, I fear, and I edit my truth.

In real life, it's not that I lie or pretend to be someone else. I do, however, keep myself guarded. Among women, I sometimes appear snobbish. And at least one man as told me I come across as a bitch. (I'm really very friendly, I promise!) I don't go out of my way to meet people. And when I am put in a situation with unfamiliar faces, I don't warm to them easily. I don't trust people quickly. I take my time getting to know someone before I let them know me. And this, I fear, is my problem. When I start feeling lonely, I remember that I don't try to meet anyone. And I'm quick to reject others before I can let them reject me. I don't take risks. I don't "put myself out there". For awhile, that was okay. But now I'm just starting to feel pathetic. I'd like to go on a date once in awhile (I won't tell you that last time that happened). I'd like to have someone, other than my friends, to talk to. It doesn't have to be serious, just something to distract me, to bring me out of my funk for a bit.

At least I'm being honest.

3 comments:

simplesinger said...

I think I know what you mean. Especially about the being honest in your writing. It's how I started writing songs when I was in high school. It allowed me to be completely honest, and say the things I would edit out in other settings. I've always appreciated the writing and recording much more than the actual performing because I'm not a natural performer, and I think some of the honesty is lost when I play for other people.

Now I've transferred some of that to my blog as well, but mine isn't as strightforward about my life as yours.I can really relate to a lot of what you're saying about how you interact with people too. It sounds a lot like me. It's not that I don't like people, it's just that I have a hard time "faking it", and I rarely come across people that I don't have to do that with.

Anyways, I hope this made sense even though I don't really know you at all. In case you're wondering, I'm friends with Max and started checking out your blog because he linked to it. I guess I'll just end this with a quote that reminds me of what you wrote:

"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are real, most of your fur has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. but these things don't matter at all, because once you are real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

-From "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams

as ever,
Mike

Sub Girl said...

i really identify with you in this: "I guess I like telling the truth. But I find it so hard when I'm face-to-face, when I'm actually speaking." and this: "In real life, it's not that I lie or pretend to be someone else. I do, however, keep myself guarded. Among women, I sometimes appear snobbish. And at least one man as told me I come across as a bitch." I am mostly honest in my blog, but I can polish my words in a way that I'm unable to do in person. And I feel like if I'm unable to say what I mean to people, then I shouldn't say anything at all...

Maxwell Thomas Wastler said...

Wow, Erin. This post is a major reason to admire you. I certainly do.

Mike's quote from The Velveteen Rabbit is beautiful, no?