You’re either in the wrong place (sorry, buddy, you might want to open an incognito window for–ahem–what you’re looking for), I’ve bullied you into visiting (most likely), or you genuinely want to be here. If you’re one of the latter two, well hey there. Heaven’s got a special room for you with lovely padded walls.
Everyone, their mother, their aunt’s dog, and their podiatrist has a blog these days. That’s okay. You’re not beholden to me. There’s no need to subscribe, to read every post, or to read any post. But I’ll try to keep things entertaining if for some reason you do read. That’s kind of the point.
I’m reading a book of excerpts from essays, poems, and novels by G.K. Chesterton right now, and when I started I fully expected it to be dull.
“Reading your vegetables,” as my friend Alanna puts it. But a couple pages in, I was hooked. I had a great big friend-crush on this turn-of-the-20th-century literary giant, and it was because he was so present in everything he wrote. That’s the fun of essay-writing and also of the postmodern novel–you get to be the one telling the story, and you get to put as much of your own goofy, irreverent, innocent, wondering, bitter, sarcastic self in there as you want. None of this hiding-the-author stuff that most novels go in for. You can put up a big neon sign with flashbulbs popping around it and scream, “THIS IS ME! HERE I AM, AREN’T I CLEVER?” And sometimes someone might even agree that yes, you are clever.
I miss that. I miss the storyteller in my stories. I know you’re hiding back there, Governing Intelligent, Mister-or-Missus Author. I love trying to find you. Some of the most fun I had in college was a great big essay about Vladimir Nabokov and how he wrote himself into his books, but always managed to create another self, a doppelganger, to play the part of Vlad. He delighted in it, and I delighted as I read his books. Which tells you a lot about me and my nerd quotient.
And I remembered back to my (I’m not proud) LiveJournal days. I even had a GreatestJournal at the same time, aimed at the people I didn’t want to have read my LiveJournal. Yes, they led to a lot of potential self-indulgence, but what I remember more is the fun of realizing the shapes of the stories of my life. By trying to articulate what had happened to me, I was writing the novel of my life. I had control over my stories, and I could play with them until they took the shape I wanted. Pure autobiography and “truth?” No, probably not. But you’re never going to get that from anyone. We as humans are a big jumbled pile of biases and opinions that change more often than we’d like to admit. One of the defining moments of a character actor is when she realizes that the villains she plays believe that they are the heroes of their story, that they are entirely in the right. We’re good at doing that. So just as you might not fully trust a story I told you over a couple of drinks, but could get a lot of entertainment out of it anyway, you can take what I give you here (please don’t go looking for the LiveJournal), douse it with salt, and enjoy yourself.
Besides, you learn a lot about stories when you tell them to an audience over and over. You learn that literal truth can be less important than the truth of the story itself. Sometimes stories need to go a certain way to be satisfying, and sometimes it’s better when you make that tweak and let them diverge from what actually happened. Urban legends are way more fun, even more informative and useful, than true accounts of that time I thought I was being stalked but it all turned out to be a misunderstanding.
I could write forever about this subject. You already have, I hear you sigh. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go read Reddit, I won’t be mad. I’m going to try this out. A place to work on shaping stories from my life so that the stories I invent are better. A place to editorialize and rant and write essays so that someday I wake up and discover that I not only have a voice, but I have something to say. And who knows? Maybe this will change and grow into something new, or maybe I’ll abandon it tomorrow. The fun’s in the not-knowing.
Good night, good luck, and good reading. Give my pal G.K.C. a try someday if you’re ever in the mood. He’s a good guy to have in your corner.