Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nov 19: Following Up

Now that I've finished the saga of my guilt trip to Iowa, I want to say thank you to everybody who has commented, here and on Facebook, for the emails of support and the ones telling your stories, for the hugs in real life. It is risky to write about things that hurt or confuse or even piss me off, things that make me feel terribly vulnerable when I see them on paper or on the screen. Some of you have told me difficult stories this past week too. I appreciate that you've shared them with me.

Every time I write a naked-me post like the last three, I hesitate for a long time before I hit the publish button. One reason Plato didn't like the written word is because written words are so final. As soon as they are published, something changes and so, according to him, truth changes constantly. In other words, he thought we couldn't really write truth. Or at least that's the way I understand him.* So when I write, I write what's true for me, at that time, and that's the best I can do. But I always have to live with the fact that what seems like truth to me, might not really be truth--whatever the fuck that is.

If the stars are lined up perfectly though, some people--or maybe only one person--will read what I wrote and resonate with what I've said. What I've said with words somehow gives light to what's inside of them--to their feelings, experiences, desires, disappointments, failures, funnybones. That's the greatest gift a writer can receive, the giving back of that connection with readers. It's also the thing I can't control. I can control the words, the turn of the phrase, but I can't control the response of any one reader.

That's why I'm always afraid to hit publish on the posts that dig the deepest, the stories that still have blood drying on them. I'm afraid maybe readers will misunderstand; afraid I've misrepresented something vital; afraid I'll tell too much; afraid I'll come across as someone I'm not--stupid, foolish, really crazy, a gynormous bitch. But most of all I'm afraid someone will get mad at me, because my stories--our stories--never happen in the vacuum of my own being. They happen because of those connections with other people and become their stories too.

It has happened that someone didn't like what I wrote in a post, one of those in which I put my heart out here and scratched the story right on it with a rusty nail, and the consequences for me were quite painful.** At least I think that's what happened. There's always the possibility of a faulty cause argument fallacy when someone leaves you guessing. I didn't mean to, but I fucked up ... maybe. The funny thing is, although that post was only up on my blog for two days before I deleted it, more people contacted me about that one than any other before or since to tell me they'd sat and cried because I put into words their experiences too, and they hadn't ever been able to put it in words. Even though I didn't know their particular stories, they felt like I'd heard them. Words have power. Stories have power and fuck Plato, they tell the truth too. All writers should approach their words with caution though. It would be so much easier to only write about bacon lube, vagina cupcakes, and pole-dancing.

And yet one reason I continue to do this is because of the readers who write back to me or tell me in person that they've cried or laughed (both is best), that they've shared something I wrote with someone else, opened up to a loved one and talked about things that were hidden in their hearts and bones, waiting to come to light. It's a miraculous gift, because sitting here at my keyboard is sometimes a lonely business. When I hit publish, there's nobody here but me and Dolores and the sound of trains in the night. And Dolores has usually fallen asleep while I looked for typos. So when I publish, it's just me, and sometimes I feel quite naked.

This is for those of you who feel a connection with what I write here, and with me and with each other: I just want to say thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for giving me a reason to write. I love your comments and your emails. Your words matter to me too.

* And of course there's a whole paradox about my having read what Plato said, or what somebody wrote that he said, so how could it be true, but I won't get into that.
** Nobody else was hurt in the making of that post, as far as I know. In fact, I think the outcome was positive for everyone except me, and that's definitely my problem.


  1. You're welcome -- and Thank You for all the encouragement and advice you've given to me for what seems like ages now. (I know, poor sentence construction!)

    Also, love the signature thing -- how did you do that?

    Peace --

  2. I caught up on your last three or four posts all at once here. Almost as hard to read as it was for you to write. It is not without reason that many writers compare their experience with self evisceration. Messy.

    Give yourself the treat of returning to vaginas and bacon. YOU deserve it.

  3. Rollo, I love your memoir in novel. I need no encouragement to read it @

    For the signature, I wrote on a piece of hot pink paper with a black Sharpie, scanned it as a JPEG, and uploaded the photo. I could have done something similar in Photoshop, but this was just as fast.

  4. Diplomat, it's nice to know you're thinking of my mental health and not vaginas and bacon...Or maybe you are thinking of me!..Heeee.

    Seriously though, it's hard for me to judge whether what I write will evoke a similar emotion to what I'm feeling or whether a reader will personalize it and take it a whole new direction. What I always hope is that I don't write a yawn. :-)

  5. i get wanting to protect other people, because i'm that kind of person, too. but i know how it stifles me, and i would hate to see you stifled. you're beautiful. keep telling your truth. i think it's one of the most important things anyone can do in this universe.

  6. I'm pushing that envelope as hard as I can, Lindsay. It feels like a tightrope sometimes. Thanks for the encouragement. And you know the same goes back to you. <3

  7. i do know, thanks. :) and you know you don't need anyone's permission to step off the tightrope sometimes and go have a hot bubblebath and a cookie, i mean, bon bon.* nobody does you better than you do, which means nobody knows how to take care of you better than you do. telling the truth and taking care of yourself should not be mutually exclusive in the aggregate, but that doesn't mean you can't focus on just one of those things sometimes.

    *and a cookie.

  8. A bon bon and a cookie? You know what I like!